President says Democratic hitting undertaking distracts from diplomatic aims but CIA says bureau stands by conclusion on 2016 election

Donald Trump said here on Saturday he believes Vladmir Putin's refusals of Russian involvement in the manipulation of the 2016 presidential election.

However, he appeared to contradict himself on Sunday when he said he was ” with our bureaux” on the question of Russian interference.

Speaking at a news conference in Hanoi on Sunday, he was asked about his comments that he believed Putin's reassurances given by the Russian president on the sidelines of Saturday's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation( Apec) summit in Vietnam.

” As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies, especially as currently constituted ,” Trump told a news conference in Vietnam.” As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies .”

The president's comments were criticised by senator John McCain who said in a tweet that there was ” nothing America First about taking the word of KGB colonel[ Putin ]” over the US intelligence community.

Trump was also quickly countered by his own CIA chief, Mike Pompeo. A statement issued by the agency said:” The director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community evaluation entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intent in Recent US Elections. The intelligence evaluation with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed .”

On Saturday Trump also launched a tirade against special attorney Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin.

The investigation could expense” millions and millions of lives”, Trump claimed, by obstructing agreement with Moscow over conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and a looming showdown with North Korea.

The president's statements, made to reporters as Us air force One flew to Hanoi from Da Nang, represented his open disregard for the views of US intelligence agencies which have concluded that Russia did interfere in multiple routes in the 2016 election, with the aim of helping Trump's candidacy.

The president disparaged officials who worked for Barack Obama, saying former CIA chief John Brennan, ex-director of national intelligence James Clapper and James Comey, the FBI director he fired in May, were “political hacks”.

” I entail, give me a transgres ,” Trump said.” So you look at it, I entail, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proved now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker .”

Despite his qualifying remarks on Sunday, he suggested he set more faith in Putin's word.

” Every period he sees me he says' I didn't do that' and I genuinely believe that when he tells me that ,” Trump said on Saturday.” He genuinely seems to be insulted by it and he says he didn't do it. He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn't do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that .”

Timeline

Trump's tour of Asia

The US president must grapple with the thorny issues of North Korea's nuclear aspirations as well as trade wars in Asia on one of the trickiest diplomatic tours in decades.

Japan

Trump warns of the North Korean threat and says Japanese orders for US-made military equipment will help keep Japan safe. Read more

South Korea

The North Korea rhetoric softens as the president indicates he is open to diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis. Read more

China

Xi Jinping rolls out the red carpet for Trump, who lavishes praise on his host and blames his American predecessors for the ‘huge' trade deficit between the US and China. Read more

Vietnam

Trump swings through Da Nang for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting( featuring one Vladimir Putin ), before flying to Hanoi for talks with Vietnam's president about boosting economic and security cooperation.

Philippines

US-Filipino relations have plummeted under President Rodrigo Duterte, who shares some populist and mercurial characteristics with his guest. The war on drugs and Islamic terror could join North Korea on the agenda.

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The president described the investigation led by Mueller, a former FBI director appointed by Trump's own justice department, as “Democrat-inspired” and a” reached task “.

Trump also claimed the investigation was preventing a normalisation of relations with Putin and therefore could cost countless lives around the world. He indicated Russia was not helping more to persuade Pyongyang to disarm” because of the lack of the relationship that we have with Russia, because of this artificial thing that's happening with this Democratic-inspired thing “.

” I guess[ Putin] is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. Because again, if we had a relationship with Russia, North Korea which is our single biggest problem right now, it would help a lot ,” he said.

” You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives ,” Trump said.

” When we can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with Russia having to do with Syria, and then ultimately getting Syria solved, and getting Ukraine solved, and doing other things, having a good relationship with Russia is a great, great thing. And this artificial Democratic hit task get in the way. It get in the way. And that's a shame. Because people will die because of it, and it's a pure reached task, and it's artificially induced and that's shame .”

John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate armed services committee reacted angrily. Accusing the president of” taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community”, the Arizonan added:” Vladimir Putin does not have America's interests at heart.

” To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk .”

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands at Apec- video