President Trump told CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor on Wednesday that it’s “true” Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and that he “would” hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for it because he’s in charge of the country.
Trump sought to tamp down outrage over his Monday performance in Helsinki, Finland, when he cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s assessment of Russian hacking. Trump insisted that he’s agreed “numerous times” that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and that he misspoke when he said that he had no reason to believe Russia interfered.
During a Tuesday Q&A, Trump clarified his comments: “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn’t,” Trump said. “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t or why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”
GLOR: “You say you agree with U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016.”
TRUMP: “Yeah and I’ve said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before, and I would say that is true, yeah.”
GLOR: “But you haven’t condemned Putin, specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?“
TRUMP: “Well, I would, because he’s in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.”
GLOR: “What did you say to him?”
TRUMP: “Very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling, we can’t have any of that – now look. We’re also living in a grown-up world. Will a strong statement — you know — President Obama supposedly made a strong statement – nobody heard it. What they did hear is a statement he made to Putin’s very close friend. And that statement was not acceptable. Didn’t get very much play relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable. But I let him know we can’t have this, we’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
“I would, because he’s in charge of the country”: President Trump tells @CBSNews he would hold Vladimir Putin responsible for Russian meddling in 2016 presidential election. https://t.co/jJcmwICGFB pic.twitter.com/R3JLWKUi0s
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 19, 2018
We wonder if he told Putin to “cut it out” or there would be serious consequences, like his predecessor?
Trump also teased an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, however he declined to directly state whether he was likely to do so.
“My lawyers are working on that,” Trump said. “I’ve always wanted to do an interview, because, look, there’s been no collusion. There’s been no talk of Russia.”
“I call it a witch hunt. That’s exactly what it is,” he continued. “And you know what? It’s very bad for our country.”
“I’ve always wanted to do an interview [with the special counsel], because, look, there’s been no collusion,” Pres. Trump tells @jeffglor. “There’s been no phone call. There’s been nothing.” https://t.co/RMtinqRy6d pic.twitter.com/tAz9c5zjY5
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) July 18, 2018
In March, Trump said he would be willing to talk with Mueller’s team about Russian meddling. “Yes. I would like to,” Trump told the press at the time.
That said, Trump’s legal team has undergone several changes since then.
Trump’s legal team has been significantly overhauled in the time since those comments. On the same day Trump said he’d like to speak with Mueller, attorney John Dowd resigned. Attorney Ty Cobb has also since departed.
Meanwhile, Trump has brought on former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Emmet Flood, who represented former President Clinton in his impeachment proceedings.
Giuliani has repeatedly cast doubt on the chances Trump will sit for an interview, while insisting that the president would like to cooperate with Mueller. –The Hill
Last week, Giuliani said that a sit-down is “probably further away” than before disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok testified in front of Congress.