After backlash, Trump says misspoke on Russian election meddling

In a move not cleared by the White House, the top intelligence official in the United States has refuted President Donald Trump's remarks in Helsinki - unequivocally affirming that the Russian government did act to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. Makes the USA "look like a pushover", said GOP Sen.

He said that he meant to say: "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russian Federation".

Following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Putin denied any meddling, Trump said he sees no reason why Russia would have interfered.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he misspoke a day earlier when he didn't back up the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 USA presidential election.

After his walkback on Tuesday, Trump said his administration will "move aggressively" to repel efforts to interfere in American elections.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, suggested Congress would consider additional sanctions on Russian Federation following Trump's meeting with Putin.

In a tweet, Mr Trump alluded to last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, which ended with him saying he had secured extra money for defence - something disputed by allies in the Western military alliance.

"We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018", he said.

The New York Times also reports that "Trump's mood grew foul as the breadth of the critical reactions became clear" during the Air Force One flight back to Washington, with aides steering clear of the front of the plane "to avoid being tapped for a venting session" with Trump. "I just think it's better for them to be on the inside, particularly trying to provide at least some degree of discipline for this president".

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"When I close my eyes, I can see their smiles". "We passed tough sanctions on Russian Federation so that we can hold them accountable". First lady Melania Trump was also aboard and was involved in some of the discussions, the people familiar with the matter said.

The closely-watched summit is not the first time the Russian and USA presidents have held talks. "I think it's kept us apart".

Trump's acceptance of Putin's denials of Russian interference in the 2016 US election was "lame", Fox News anchor Brit Hume said. "While Russia's actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election".

In their response, many USA politicians simply refused to accept an equivalence between the United States and Russian Federation.

Trump has incomparably more influence with the base than the Republican Party's leaders in Congress: outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Today's press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory", Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, who had defended Trump in television interviews, saying he's been the focus of a "partisan investigation" over Russian Federation and that the President is "sensitive to that".

James Clapper, who was director of national intelligence under Obama between 2010 and 2017, described Trump remarks as "truly unbelievable".

The Republican rebuke from Capitol Hill came largely from those lawmakers who have been willing to openly criticize the president. "For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak".

The Russian president has won praise at home, with one tabloid saying he had "outmanoeuvred" the USA president at the summit.

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