Donald Trump backtracks on Russia election meddling defense | News | DW | 12.11.2017
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Donald Trump backtracks on Russia election meddling defense

US President Trump has said he backs the conclusion of intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Trump tried to distance himself from remarks suggesting he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After suggesting he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial of Moscow meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, US President Donald Trump attempted to clarify the comments on Sunday.

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Trump remarks ruffle feathers in Asia and at home

"I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election," Trump said referencing Putin at a news conference with Vietnam's president in Hanoi. "As to whether I believe it, I'm with our agencies."

"As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies," shortly before heading off to the Philippines for his final stop on his five-country maiden trip to Asia.

One day prior, Trump suggested he believed Putin's account over election interference. The remarks drew sharp criticism back at home as US intelligence agencies have long concluded that there was Russian meddling.

"Every time he sees me, he said: 'I didn't do that.' And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday.

Former US intelligence director James Clapper told Reuters news agency that "the fact the president of the United States would take Putin at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable."

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'Haters and fools' question Russia ties

Although he said he agreed with initelligence agencies, Trump later took to Twitter to slam those who question his efforts to improve cooperation and ties with Russia.

"When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," he wrote, adding that "Russia can greatly help" solve issues in Ukraine, Syria and North Korea.

US intelligence officials, including the CIA, have concluded that Russia interfered in the US election to help Trump defeat his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Current CIA director Mike Pompeo, who was appointed by Trump, said on Saturday he continues to agree with that assessment.

Read moreAPEC: Donald Trump stresses ties with Asia-Pacific, but calls for 'better' trade deals

A special counsel and several Congressional committees are also currently investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The special counsel probe has so far led to the indictments of Trump's former campaign chairman and another top aide for financial crimes and other offenses unrelated to the campaign.

rs/rc   (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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