President Donald Trump stated Tuesday afternoon that he has "a full faith in our intelligence agencies." But less than 24 hours later, Trump contradicted his own national security advisers again in front of cameras by claiming Russia was no longer targeting the United States.
On Monday, Dan Coats, Trump's hand-picked Director of National Intelligence, stated,
We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."
But Wednesday, in response to the question, "Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?" Trump thanked the reporter then said, "No" while looking directly at her. A staffer can be heard in the background trying to get the press to leave the room quickly.
Watch the video here.
JUST IN: President Trump said "no" when asked by reporters if Russia is still meddling in U.S. elections. Watch m… https://t.co/qyprQCZt3C— MSNBC (@MSNBC)1531932766.0
In addition to Intelligence Director Coats statements on Monday, on Friday —before the President held a private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin— Trump's National Intelligence head stated,
The warning signs are there. The system is blinking. It is why I believe we are at a critical point. Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”
Coats characterized Russia as the “most aggressive foreign actor, no question. They continue their efforts to undermine our democracy.”
But the President apparently still disagrees with his own country's intelligence agencies in favor of the word of a foreign dictator. After the meeting with Putin, Trump discredited his own nation's security forces because the Russian President's denials of any interference were "powerful."
Wednesday, when asked to clarify his further denial of continued Russian meddling, Trump claimed no President had ever been tougher on Russia than him.
"We're doing very well, and let me tell you, we are doing very well and we are doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia," Trump began.
And there's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers. Look at what we've done."
"Look at sanctions. Look at ambassadors not there. Look at, unfortunately, at what happened in Syria recently."
And I think President Putin knows that better than anybody, certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it and he's not happy about it and he shouldn't be happy about it because there's never been a President as tough on Russia as I have been."
Just the day before this latest denial of Russian involvement in cyber attacks against the United States and attempts to interfere in national politics, the President did damage control for similar statements he made on Twitter and in Helsinki during a highly criticized press conference with Putin.
And people were quick to pick up on the contradiction between what the President said during his walkback Tuesday, where he read from a prepared statement, versus his candid off the cuff answer on Wednesday.
Just now in a Cabinet meeting, Trump was asked if Russia is still targeting the U.S. Contradicting the intelligence… https://t.co/dMW7Zcdn6s— Jamil Smith (@Jamil Smith)1531931937.0
This is beyond embarrassing. It's treasonous. https://t.co/SxV6BcG0X2— Keith Boykin (@Keith Boykin)1531934662.0
Four days ago...Trump’s own DNI vs Trump moments ago. https://t.co/kURapm4LfN— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@Yashar Ali 🐘)1531932090.0
BREAKING: Trump just lied and said Russia isn’t still targeting the US. We are literally under attack by the Russia… https://t.co/p8gF2w5KBE— Scott Dworkin (@Scott Dworkin)1531933431.0
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr on Trump saying Russia is not targeting US: “He needs to read the intelligence”— Manu Raju (@Manu Raju)1531940046.0
DNI Coats: “The warning lights are blinking red again.” Russia is “penetrating our digital infrastructure and condu… https://t.co/BYPdeoSzgW— Keith Boykin (@Keith Boykin)1531934096.0
What world is Trump living in? Does he not understand what's going on? Is he being blackmailed because the Russians… https://t.co/XX6aRqcYCx— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1531934797.0
Former US Ambassador to Russia (who Putin wants to interrogate), when asked about Trump's Russia remarks: "This is… https://t.co/thTIDpHsGr— John Whitehouse (@John Whitehouse)1531933560.0
And some are calling out Trump's claim of no President being harder on Russia than he is.
Your daily reminder that Trump has been harder on me, a comic who tells dick jokes, than he has on the President of… https://t.co/RY7ayBxp8i— Kathy Griffin (@Kathy Griffin)1531890585.0
Trump is like Pinocchio except he was born a real boy and turned into a puppet.— The Volatile Mermaid (@The Volatile Mermaid)1531833282.0
Now we know that when Trump says "No Collusion", he means with Democracy.— Tea Pain (@Tea Pain)1531937681.0
This is a flat-out lie by Donald Trump. https://t.co/ZqVKYrUtj7— Keith Boykin (@Keith Boykin)1531934725.0
It remains to be seen if another written walkback for Wednesday's Trump statement regarding Russia will be read by the President Thursday.