It appears that Trump is accepting Putin’s version of events over the unanimous conclusion of American intelligence services.
Trump had his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and appears to have taken Putin’s word that Russia did not interfere with the American election as alleged unanimously by U.S. intelligence services.
NBC News reports that:
[Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson said Trump opened the more than two hour meeting by questioning Moscow’s cyber intrusions in America’s political system. The two had a “very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject,” Tillerson said adding that Trump “pressed President Putin on more than on occasion” on the issue.
Still, the Secretary of State said, Putin denied Russian involvement.
Tillerson departed the briefing room after leaving unanswered questions about whether Trump accepted Putin’s denial of election meddling.
Think Progress reports that “Trump accepted Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russian officials didn’t interfere in last year’s presidential election during their meeting at the G20 Summit on Friday, according to remarks Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made to reporters after it concluded.”
“Lavrov also said Trump and Putin agreed to create a bilateral group to discuss election meddling,” according to Think Progress.
Astonishingly, Think Progress goes on to note that: “The American account of the meeting is not inconsistent with Lavrov’s version.”
During a news conference, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Trump brought up the issue of election interference during the meeting with Putin. Tillerson said Putin “denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.”
“[W]hat the two presidents, I think rightly, focused on is how we move forward,” Tillerson said. “How do we move forward from here because it’s not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed upon resolution of that question, between the two nations, so the question is what do we do now?”
Asked if Trump was “unequivocal in his view that Russia interfered with the election,” Tillerson reiterated that Trump spent his time talking about “how we go forward.”
If true, this means Trump is placing more trust in the very people who interfered with our election than our intelligence services, the FBI, etc.
As Think Progress concludes:
If Lavrov’s claims are true, President Trump is accepting the word of a Russian autocrat over the consensus conclusion of the US intelligence community. Trump’s campaign is current the subject of a web of investigations for possible collusion with Russia.
Tillerson’s characterization of what Trump said during his meeting with Putin is consistent with Trump’s declaration that “nobody really knows” who meddled in the 2016 election” during his news conference on Thursday in Poland.
Trump publicly cast doubt upon the intelligence community’s findings regarding Russian meddling during a news conference in Poland on Thursday. Asked by a reporter if he’d say “once and for all, yes or no, say that Russia definitively interfered with the 2016 election,” Trump refused.