Trump questions US intelligence agencies, not Putin, on election meddling

Frederick Owens
July 17, 2018

President of the United States Mr Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland today (Monday, July 16).

The Russian president said that he told Trump "that the Russian state never interfered, and does not plan to interfere in internal American electoral process".

Trump's tweet says: "Our relationship with Russian Federation has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of USA foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!".

Trump's remarks at the news conference were met by some with strong criticism - particularly for slamming Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation and appearing to back Putin's denial that Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 USA election. "America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression", Sasse said in the statement. Asked if he trusted USA intelligence agencies which concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump said he had been told by his CIA chief that it was Russian Federation, but that he saw no reason to believe it. "President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today". "And that's not a good thing, it's a bad thing, and I think we can hopefully do something about that". "That's a bad thing". "North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has, I think, never been stronger", Trump said. "Obviously it's Important for the president to know what information we've uncovered because he's got to make very important decisions for the country".

Referencing the Steele dossier that suggested the Russians collected "kompromat" on Trump during his stay in Moscow years before he became president, Putin stated he had no idea Trump was in town and didn't really care that he was, much less wanting to gather dirt on him. He said,"I would like to congratulate you on a very great world cup, one of the best ever".

"He just said it's not Russia", Trump said. "I think you see for yourself that these efforts failed, and they were never bound to succeed", he said.

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"Negotiations with Trump took place in an open and constructive atmosphere, I find them rather successful and useful", Putin added.

As Trump meets behind closed doors with Putin, the country is holding its breath to see what comes out of the meeting, particularly because the goal of it was never fully clear.

The president also said in a CBS News interview broadcast on Sunday that the European Union is an American "foe" for "what they do to us in trade". "It will be determined by the heads of state themselves as they go along".

He said European countries shouldn't be anxious about a possible US-Russian rapprochement or decisions about Europe made "over the heads of Europeans". "I hope so", he said.

Trump has refused to personally commit to the USA refusal to recognise Russia's annexation of Crimea, leaving open the possibility of a climbdown linked to a promise by Putin to somehow rein in Iranian influence in Syria. Trump said Washington and Moscow also wanted to help the Syrian people on a humanitarian basis. We'll be talking about other parts of the Middle East.

Twelve Russians have been indicted by a grand jury in the special counsel probe for alleged hacking during the 2016 election, including for hacking emails of the Democratic National Committee, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Friday.

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