WASHINGTON, DC (CBSNewYork) – President Trump on Tuesday claimed he accepts the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russians interfered in the 2016 election. He also said he misspoke when he suggested otherwise in a widely criticized press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Helsinki, Finland.
Trump, making what he described as clarifying comments in a meeting with members of Congress at the White House Tuesday, said he meant to say that he had no reason to think Russia “wouldn’t” have interfered in the 2016 election, instead of that he actually said on Monday, which is that he had no reason to think Russia “would” have interfered.
“Let me be totally clear in saying that, and I’ve said this many times, I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said.
“Could be other people also,” he then added as a caveat.
Facing backlash over his remarks, Mr. Trump told reporters he reviewed a transcript of what he said, and decided to clarify his comments.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump was standing by his widely criticized summit, Tweeting on Tuesday: “While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way.”
Senior administration officials tell CBS News there is an effort underway to fix the situation after Trump sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies which have concluded the Russian government meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.
“They did interfere with our election,” said House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan. “It’s really clear. There should be no doubt about that.”
Both Republicans and Democrats quickly denounced the president’s comments.
“The President isn’t leading,” said Sen. Ben Sasse. “Vladimir Putin walked away from Helsiniki with a win. It’s a disaster.”
The president is getting support from at least one Republican on Capitol Hill for meeting with his Russian counterpart.
On CBS This Morning, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky did not fault the president’s position.
“The president has undergone an onslaught of a year, year and a half of partisan investigation of somehow colluding with the Russians so I think he’s sensitive to that,” said Paul.
In response, Trump thanked Sen. Paul, tweeting, “You really get it.”
Russia said it is ready to increase cooperation with the U.S. military in Syria following Monday’s summit.