After a highly anticipated and controversial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Helsinki, President Donald Trump doubled down on his doubts that Russia interfered with the 2016 US election.
In a joint news conference after their one-one-one meeting, Trump said that he believed Putin's denial of Russia's involvement. "So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump said.
His statements come just days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation led to the bombshell indictment of 12 Russian military officials for hacking into US systems in a widespread, orchestrated election-interference operation aimed at helping Trump's candicacy over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Said Trump, "I don't see any reason" for Russia to interfere with the US presidential election.
But Trump's own intel chief stood by the intelligence community's findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
"The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the President and policymakers. We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security," said director of national intelligence Daniel R. Coats, in a press statement released after the Trump-Putin press event.
Read the full transcript from the Helsinki press conference here.
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