President Donald Trump, in contrast with the assessments of American intelligence agencies, says that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that he did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
The two world leaders met briefly Saturday at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam. In the aftermath, reporters were quick to question the president about election meddling.
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump said, adding “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, ‘I didn’t do that.'”
The president explained that Putin appears “insulted” by such accusations and stressed that he would rather not argue with the man, arguing that there is more to gain from cooperation.
“I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine,” Trump told reporters, adding, “If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact it would be a great thing, not a bad thing.”
“We could really be helped a lot with Russia having to do with North Korea. You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives. This Isn’t baby stuff, this is the real deal. And if Russia helped us in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster,” the president asserted.
It is unclear whether the president actually believes Russia’s denials or is simply trying to clear away the debris to forge stronger ties to Russia to address issues like North Korea, which Trump called “our single biggest problem right now.” There is increasing evidence that the Russians are filling in for the Chinese as the bilateral relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang breaks down.
The intelligence community’s assessment, according to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, is that Russian meddling did occur, but it did not impact the outcome of the election.
“The intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election,” Pompeo declared at a recent event at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Left-wing media, however, have consistently claiming that Trump and his team colluded with the Russians, an accusation that remains unfounded.
Trump repeatedly told reporters that the whole thing is being orchestrated by the Democrats.
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