President Donald Trump insisted Tuesday he trusted the United States intelligence agencies, as he cleaned up his remarks from Monday’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Let me begin by saying that once again the full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies…I have full faith and support for America’s greatest intelligence agencies. I always have,” Trump said.
The White House lights went out after Trump spoke, sparking him to joke that it might be the intelligence agencies messing with the power.
“Whoops, they just turned off the lights,” he joked. “That must be the intelligence agencies.”
(Update: It was later revealed that White House chief of staff John Kelly accidentally tripped the switch for the lights in the White House during the meeting, although there were several strong thunderstorms in the area. The lights were quickly switched back on.)
The president made his remarks prior to a meeting at the White House with members of Congress to discuss tax reform but specifically addressed the media-fueled hysteria from the Washington establishment since meeting with Putin.
Trump said that after reading through the transcript of his remarks, he realized that he misspoke during the press conference, and meant to say that he did not see any reason to doubt that Russia tried to meddle in the election.
He said that he meant to say “wouldn’t” when saying, “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia meddling with the elections.
Trump’s comments demonstrated a rare self-correction in response to the controversy.
“It should have been obvious … but I would like to clarify,” he said.
The president said that he accepted the conclusion of the intelligence agencies that Russia attempted to influence the election, but repeated that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russians.
The President vowed to fight any attempt by Russia or any other countries to interfere in United States elections.
“We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018,” Trump said.
Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for failing to respond to the election hacking threat from Russia as well as former intelligence officials John Brennan and James Clapper.
Trump needled the press for paying the former officials “a lot of money” to serve as contributors to their networks.
Brennan and Clapper remain staunch critics of the president and his administration.