On Saturday, President Donald Trump said that “people will die” because of the Department of Justice and Congress’s investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on his way to Hanoi, Vietnam,
This artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way. It gets in the way. And that’s a shame. Because people will die because of it. And it’s a pure hit job. And it’s artificially induced. And that’s [a] shame.
Trump may have been referring to “people dying” in Syria and elsewhere in the world due to one major stressor in US-Russia relations: official investigations into alleged Russian interference in the US election. On Saturday, Putin and Trump issued a joint statement on Syria said there is a need to defeat the so-called Islamic State and keep military communication between the two countries open.
There was no collusion. Everybody knows there was no collusion. I mean, you speak to these people…the Democrats—the Republicans come out screaming it, but the Democrats come out, and they say, “No, there’s no collusion.” There is no collusion. There’s nothing.
Rep. Ted Lieu says this is, to put it bluntly, a lie:
I have seen the classified information on Russian hacking. @realDonaldTrump has received classified briefings. I can tell you that @POTUS is LYING. Trump knows the Kremlin hacked America last year. https://t.co/gq9gAeLlnf
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 11, 2017
Trump also said Putin did not interfere in last year’s presidential election:
He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.
But I just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they’re saying he did. He just—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.” I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth.
Pressed by reporters on whether Trump believes Putin, Trump replied,
I think he is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. There was no collusion. Everybody knows there was no collusion.
Immediately, CIA director Mike Pompeo released the following statement:
The director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.” The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.
On Saturday, Trump also said that former CIA Director John Brennan, former director of national intelligence chief James Clapper and former FBI director James Comey are “political hacks.” Those leaders were in charge at the time that a declassified report from those three agencies was released in early January finding that Russia called for an influence campaign aimed at interfering in the United States election.
And then you hear it’s 17 agencies. Well, it’s three. And one is Brennan and one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They’re political hacks.
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’s proven to be a leaker.
But after a tremendous amount of backlash from nearly everyone, Trump attempted to backpedal on his comments:
What I said is, I believe [Putin] believes that. I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted, with their leadership. I believe in our intel agencies. I’ve worked with them very strongly.
Trump clarifies his comments on Putin + election hacking: "I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether or not I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies" pic.twitter.com/nDqJqeytkk
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) November 12, 2017
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 12, 2017
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