Trump says he believes Putin's election meddling denialshttp://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/11/politics/president-donald-trump-vlad
Story highlights"He said he didn't meddle," Trump saidTrump spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One in Vietnam
Da Nang, Vietnam (CNN)President Donald Trump suggested on Saturday he's done confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country's election meddling since it's insulting to the Russian leader.Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the US presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did. The fraught relations between the two leaders was underscored anew when Putin's spokesman initially said election meddling did not come up when they spoke, even though Trump said it did.And he stressed that bigger issues persist between the United States and Russia that require the two leaders to move on.Trump, Putin shake hands, chat multiple times at Asia-Pacific summit"He said he didn't meddle. He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam. Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of summit here, where the Russia meddling issue arose."Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that,' " Trump said. "And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it."Read More"I think he is very insulted by it," Trump added.On Sunday, Trump was asked to clarify his Air Force One comments about Putin and the election meddling."I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I am with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with the leadership," Trump said during a joint press briefing in Hanoi, Vietnam. "I believe that our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies, I work with them very strongly ... As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies," Trump said.As Trump has traveled abroad, the special counsel investigation looking into possible collusion between his campaign aides and Russia has crept closer to Trump's inner circle.
'There was no collusion'Ex-Trump security chief testifies he rejected 2013 Russian offer of women for Trump in MoscowJetting from Tokyo to Seoul to Beijing, Trump has largely remained quiet about the Russia investigation back home. But on his flight, which departed Da Nang in the early evening Saturday, Trump's simmering anger over the Russia matter burst forth."There was no collusion. Everybody knows there was no collusion," Trump insisted. "I think it's a shame that something like that could destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are really important countries."He added he thought that Putin and he could "have the potential to have a very, very good relationship."Trump's acceptance of Putin's denial that Russia sought to sway the election in his favor seemingly runs counter to assessments by US intelligence agencies. While describing his relationship with Putin and the ongoing investigations into 2016 meddling, Trump seemed to indicate on Saturday that he trusts Putin's denials more than the comments of former intelligence officials, like former high-ranking intelligence officials James Comey, John Brennan and James Clapper."I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks," Trump said. "So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker. So you look at that and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them."When asked for comment about the President's comments, the CIA said in a statement that the man Trump picked to lead the agency, Mike Pompeo, reiterated his support for US intelligence findings and that the "assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed." The agency declined to comment further.Trump said Sunday: "As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies."The discrepancies between Putin and American officials weren't worth debating when other security issues require the two men's attention, Trump said Saturday."You are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine," he said."I can't stand there and argue with him," he added. "I'd rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I'd rather have him, you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing."In a tweet Sunday morning local time, Trump said he had a "good discussion" with Putin on Syria and North Korea, making no mention of the election meddling. He added: "When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!"
When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2017