White House insists Trump believes Russia still a threat

White House insists Trump believes Russia still a threat

The White House has insisted it believes Russia still poses a threat to the US amid confusion over comments made by President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump appeared to disagree with US intelligence when he responded no to a question about whether Russia was still targeting American elections.

Later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump was saying no to answering more questions.

It comes amid a flurry of criticism over his recent comments about Russia.

The president and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle in our elections as they have done in the past, Mrs Sanders said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

Hours earlier, ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega asked the president whether Russia would still target American elections.

After he shook his head and replied, Thank you very much, no, she again asked No? You don’t believe that to be the case?

He appeared to respond again No.

But Mrs Sanders rejected that interpretation later in a news briefing, telling reporters the White House was taking action to prevent any future meddling.

We wouldn’t actually spend as much time and effort as we are if we didn’t believe that [Russia is] still looking at us, she said.

Later, Ms Vega tweeted that the president had been looking directly at her when he answered.

Getting a lot of questions about my exchange with @realDonaldTrump today.Yes, he was looking directly at me when he spoke.Yes, I believe he heard me clearly. He answered two of my questions.Here’s the full exchange pic.twitter.com/F3QmDSFzpT

End of Twitter post by @CeciliaVega

NBC News’ White House correspondent Hallie Jackson responded to Mrs Sander’s explanation on Wednesday on Twitter, saying she had never heard the president say ‘no’ in order to get us to stop.

Here’s the thing about what the @PressSec said about @POTUS no response in the countless time I’ve been in the Oval or Cabinet Room or wherever trying to shout questions, I’ve never heard the president say no’ in order to get us to stop.

End of Twitter post by @HallieJackson

The apparent response would put him at odds with US intelligence on claims of Russian interference in US elections for the second time since he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump said he misspoke during Monday’s summit when he appeared to side with Mr Putin over claims of Kremlin meddling in US elections.

US intelligence chief Dan Coats said on Monday that Russia was involved in ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.

He told a congressional committee in February he had already seen evidence that Russia was targeting the upcoming mid-term elections in November.

During an interview with CBS News’ Jeff Glor on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Trump said that he would consider Mr Putin personally responsible for any Russian interference.

Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country, he said. So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.

Mr Trump added that he was very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling in his conversation with Russia’s leader.

On Wednesday morning Mr Trump lashed out at haters who condemned his meeting with Russia’s president, saying his critics were suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!

End of Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!

End of Twitter post 2 by @realDonaldTrump

Despite the controversy, Republican voters seem to be sticking by Mr Trump.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week found that despite a firestorm of media criticism, Mr Trump’s Finland summit had no real impact on his overall approval ratings.

In the survey, 42% of all registered voters approved of his job performance, which is consistent with averages thus far.

Some 71% of Republicans polled approved of his response to Russia, while only 14% of Democrats were in favour.

US lawmakers are calling for a court demand to be issued for the notes of the US translator who accompanied Mr Trump to his two-hour meeting with Mr Putin.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to testify before the Senate next week about the summit.

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, tried on Tuesday to stage a symbolic vote to support the findings of Russian interference, but was blocked by Republicans.

Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons, an Arizona Republican and a Delaware Democrat, are reportedly working on a nonbinding resolution to endorse the intelligence committee’s findings.

But Texas Republican John Cornyn said the Senate should focus on additional sanctions instead of just some messaging exercise.

During a news conference after Monday’s summit, Mr Trump was asked about alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

According to a transcript posted by the White House, he said My people came to me… they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this I don’t see any reason why it would be.

The summit comments sparked a barrage of criticism from lawmakers across the political spectrum, with many calling on him to correct himself.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump said he had reviewed the transcript and realised he needed to clarify.

The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t’ or ‘why it wouldn’t be Russia’. Sort of a double negative.

Mr Trump said that the interference had had no impact on the election, in which he defeated Hillary Clinton.

However, he did not respond when reporters asked him if he would condemn Mr Putin.

While the NATO meeting in Brussels was an acknowledged triumph, with billions of dollars more being put up by member countries at a faster pace, the meeting with Russia may prove to be, in the long run, an even greater success. Many positive things will come out of that meeting..

End of Twitter post 3 by @realDonaldTrump

News Source BBCNews

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