President Donald Trump has contradicted the U.S. intelligence agencies, by saying he believes President Vladimir Putin did not attempt to interfere in the 2016 election.
Trump spoke with Putin in Vietnam during a joint summit with other Asia-Pacific countries. When a reporter asked if the subject of Russian election interference came up, Trump replied, “He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did. … Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’”
Trump also took multiple shots at his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton and lamented that Putin is “very insulted” by the accusations of election meddling.
“You hear it’s 17 agencies [who agreed on the hacking]. Well, it’s three,” he said. “And one is [then-CIA Director John] Brennan. And one is, whatever. I mean, give me a break. They’re political hacks. So you look at it, and then you have Brennan, you have [then-Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper and you have [then-FBI Director James] Comey. Comey’s proven now to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker. So you look at that.”