He admitted that he had misspoken on Monday, with the intention that he found no reason why it was not Russia that interfered.
Before he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the original comments had already resulted in a full-blown fusillade of criticism. Yet some of his (Mr. Trump’s) confederates had pressed on clarifying his perspective. Furthermore, he expressed his “full faith and support” in U.S. intelligence agencies.
The original comments:
The root of the controversy is the answer that he gave to a question asked at a news conference on Monday after the summit with Mr. Putin.
Below is an excerpt from the transcript posted by the White House.
REPORTER: President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is, who do you believe?
TRUMP: 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 Clarified Comments:
Mr. President after reviewing the transcript realized the need to clarify.
“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,” he said.
“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.”
Further adding to his statement: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
Although he said that the interference had zero impact on the election, which resulted in the defeat of Hillary Clinton, he did not respond when reporters quizzed him about his thoughts for condemning Mr. Putin.
The reason behind the outrage
Democrats and Republicans were equally taken aback that Mr. Trump sided with Russia after being acknowledged about Russian intervention.
It is a known fact that Russia and U.S have been a long-term rival, and remain at logger-heads on major issues. Instead of condemning Russia’s actions, Trump maintained that both countries were equally responsible for poor relations.
This additionally made lawmakers upset. Mr. Trump’s one of the most loyal Republican supporters, Newt Gingrich, remarked the comments as one of the most serious mistakes of his presidency.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer accused Mr. Trump of cowardice after the rectification of the comments.
The damage has been done
As Mr. President confirmed his support for U.S. intelligence, the entire White House conference room blacked out. So, does it indicate that Mr. Trump is a believer in ominous metaphors?
Once everything went back to normal and the order was restored, he was clueless about why a storm had swirled around his presidency on the day of the summit with Mr. Putin. He later realized the mistake and rectified it. Happy realization Mr. Trump!
However, the damage has been done. All the explanations of the world cannot change the fact that standing beside Mr. Putin—on the biggest platform, Donald Trump fumbled. No amount of White House statement can change that.