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 .”
Trump gratified Putin briefly on three occasions at Da Nang. The two exchanged a jovial handshake at the gala dinner on Friday and stood next to one another in a” family photo” of leaders on Saturday. The US press pool including photographers were blocked from encompassing the day's events, including the Trump-Putin meetings. Only Fox News and the official White House photographer were granted access.
Putin dismissed accusations Moscow meddled in the US election.” Everything about the so-called Russian dossier in the US is a manifestation of continuing domestic political conflict ,” he said.
Putin was asked if he had followed the mounting investigation into alleged contacts between Trump's campaign team and Russians, including a woman who claimed to be Putin's niece.
” Regarding some sort of connections of my relatives with members of the administration or some officials ,” he said,” I only found out about that yesterday from[ his spokesman Dmitry] Peskov .”
He also said:” I don't know anything about[ the investigation ]. I think these are some sort of fantasies .”
The two leaders created a joint statement on Syria, restating their determination to defeat Islamic State and their passion for a United Nations-brokered solution.
” It's going to save tremendous numbers of lives and we did it very quickly, we agreed very quickly ,” Trump said.
The statement lists longstanding areas of agreement between the US and Russia on the importance of resurrecting mostly dormant UN-mediated negotiations known as the Geneva process, which sees constitutional reform and free elections. In the past, Washington has disagreed with Moscow on how the process should be carried out and what role Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would play.
Assad's forces, with Russian and Iranian supporting, have been gaining ground. The Syrian chairperson has consequently depicted little real interest in a peace deal. Asked if Russia would be able to bringing Assad to the table, a state department official, quoted on CNN, said:” We're going to be testing that, we're going to find out .”