President Donald Trump said he addressed Russia's interference in the U.S. 2016 election and that President Vladimir Putin was "extremely strong" in his denials.
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"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," President Trump said, standing at podium side-by-side with the Russian president during a joint press conference Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
He continued: “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
While Putin has long denied Russian involvement and did so again Monday, the U.S. intelligence community has long maintained that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the U.S. election, and just three days ago, the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian government agents for hacking the Democratic Party during the 2016 election. And following the president's press conference, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats again reaffirmed that the intelligence community's assessment remains unchanged.
"We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security," Coats said in a statement.
While flying aboard Air Force One en route back to Washington, the president tweeted an apparent defense of his comments earlier today by reiterating that he said he has confidence in "MY intelligence people," even as he also cast doubt on the intelligence community's firm conclusion regarding Russian meddling in saying he didn't see any reason to doubt Putin's denials.