President Trump on Tuesday was forced to walk back his controversial statements about Russia's election interference, clarifying that he accepts the "intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place." But on Wednesday, he suggested that the issue was a thing of the past.
When ABC News' Cecilia Vega asked Trump whether Russia is still targeting the U.S., Trump reportedly shook his head and simply said "no."
After Trump held a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, critics condemned his failure to side with the U.S. intelligence community on its findings that Russia meddled in the election. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, directly disputed Trump's defense of Putin, issuing a statement that reaffirmed his confidence in Russia's "ongoing" attempt to "undermine our democracy."
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Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden expressed shock over Trump's claim that Russia is no longer attempting to interfere in U.S. election systems, writing "OMG. OMG. OMG." on Twitter. Whether Trump will walk back his walkback on the walkback remains to be seen.
Update 3:05 p.m ET: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump was saying "no" to answering more questions, not to Vega's question. But as The Guardian's Sabrina Saddiqui notes, Trump continued answering questions about Russia after he said "no" following Vega's inquiry. "We believe that threats still exist," said Sanders. Watch her full explanation here.
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