Speaking to reporters during a Cabinet meeting, Trump said that there has “never been a president as tough on Russia” as himself, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin “knows that better than anybody,” Xinhua reported.
Asked whether he believed Russia was still trying to interfere in US elections, Trump responded: “No.”
Trump’s comment contradicts the assessment of several US intelligence agencies, as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats reiterated Monday that Russia had attempted to interfere in the 2016 US elections and that it was carrying out “ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”
Many US lawmakers have expressed concern that Russia may attempt to interfere in November’s midterm elections.
Trump said that his administration was “doing very well” in its efforts to confront Russia, recalling the economic sanctions that Washington imposed on Moscow.
On Monday, during a press conference with President Putin, Trump contradicted US intelligence assessments regarding Russia’s alleged attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, saying he did not see any reason why Moscow would intervene.
Trump backtracked on Tuesday, however, claiming he misspoke and that “the sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.'”
The US president on Wednesday also spoke of his summit with NATO leaders in Brussels, saying “incredible progress” had been made “toward achieving greater peace, security and prosperity for America and for our allies.”
“The meetings with NATO, the United Kingdom and Russia were a tremendous success,” he said.