“Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that,'” Trump reportedly said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
In response to his comments, a CIA spokesperson said Director Mike Pompeo, whom Trump appointed, “stands by” an intelligence community assessment, which found Russia tried to influence the election.
The contradiction between the president's comments and the CIA's sparked backlash, and CNN reported Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said “There's nothing 'America First' about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community.”
On Sunday local time, during a press conference in Vietnam, Trump responded to a request to clarify his comments and said: “I believe in our intel agencies. I've worked with them very strongly.”
Trump declared that what he initially said was “I believe [Putin] believes that,” not that he necessarily believes Russia did or did not interfere.
“I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election,” the president explained. “As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies, especially as currently constituted, with their leadership.”
“It's now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken,” Trump added, and he claimed that working with Russia, China, and other countries could help solve various world problems.