Trump says he sees 'no reason' why Russia would want to interfere in 2016 US election

Mr Trump said he trusted both his intelligence community and Mr Putin

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 16 July 2018 17:32 BST
Trump dodges question on Russian meddling in US election in 2016

Donald Trump has said he sees no reason why Russia would have wanted to interfere in the 2016 election - the latest incident of the US president appearing not to want to criticise Moscow.

The US intelligence community concluded prior to voters going to the polls in November 2016 that Russia was trying to interfere in behalf of Mr Trump. In December 2016, Barack Obama expelled 35 US diplomats in retaliation for their alleged actions.

“I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners,” Mr Obama said in a statement.

Yet asked directly whether he believed his own intelligence community or else the claims of Mr Putin, Mr Trump in Helsinki appeared to humiliate his Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats.

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump.

“I don't know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Putin says he had to tell Trump several times that he did not interfere in US election

John Brennan, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from March 2013 to January 2017, claimed Mr Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rose to and exceeded the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanours”.

“It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you,” he tweeted.

Mr Trump said Mr Putin had made an “incredible offer” to allow Russian and US investigators to work together on allegations of Russian cyber attacks.

He said Mr Putin suggested the US provide its intelligence to the Russian military so Russia could determine the truth of what happened. He said he had “great confidence” in his intelligence agencies who have concluded Russia interfered in the election.

But he added that Mr Putin was “incredibly strong and powerful today” in his contention that Russia had nothing to do with election interference, something Russia has always denied.

Asked if Russia was at all to blame for the poor ties between the two countries - something he had tweeted about ahead of the meeting, Mr said: “I hold both countries responsible. I think the US has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish,“ he said, before veering into discussion about his election victory.

”I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her. We won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.”

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