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Timeline of Trump admin.’s shifting stance on Russia election meddling

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
The Trump administration’s
stance on Russian election interference has shifted multiple
times since his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in
Helsinki.

Chris McGrath/Getty
Images


  • The Trump administration has had quite a week on an
    array of issues, but especially the topic of Russian election
    interference. 
  • Trump has contradicted both himself and his advisers on
    this issue over the course of the week. 
  • The Trump administration generally seems to accept that
    meddling occurred, but the president has questioned whether it
    was solely Russia that carried it out. 
  • The president and his advisers have also questioned
    whether Russia interfered to bolster Trump’s chances of
    winning. 
  • The US intelligence community concluded Russia
    interfered in the election, under the direction of Putin, to
    help Trump win. 

The Trump administration has had quite a week on an array of
issues, but especially the topic of Russian election
interference. 

President Donald Trump has long expressed doubts as to whether
Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election, but his
alternating statements on this issue were particularly
significant this week given his recent meeting with Russian
President Vladimir Putin. 

At times, the president and his advisers contradicted one another
on where they stand on this issue, making it difficult to discern
where the administration really stands.

Trump in Helsinki on Monday: ‘I don’t see
any reason why’ Russia
would interfere in the 2016 election


trump putin
Trump
stunned observers when he rebuffed the US intelligence community
in favor of Russia in Helsinki.

Thomson Reuters

During a now-infamous press conference with Putin on Monday,
Trump said he didn’t see “any reason” why it “would” be Russia
who interfered in the US presidential election.

“My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan
Coats came to me, some others, they said they think it’s Russia.
I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump
said. “I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Subsequently, the president was broadly accused of siding with
Putin over the US intelligence community on this issue. 

The president also said Putin had been “powerful” in his denial
about interfering in the election. 

But a declassified
report
from US intelligence agencies made public in January
2017 states, “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an
influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.
Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US
democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and
harm her electability and potential presidency.”

The report adds, “We further assess Putin and the Russian
Government developed a clear preference for President-elect
Trump.”

During Monday’s press conference, Trump also once again
claimed there’d been no collusion between the Kremlin and his
campaign. Putin made similar claims at the time. 

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Monday:
We have been clear in our assessments of Russian
meddling’




Dan Coats
Director
of National Intelligence Dan Coats reiterated the US intelligence
community’s conclusion Russia interfered in the US presidential
election on Monday after President Donald Trump expressed his
doubts on the subject in Helsinki.

Aaron
Bernstein/Reuters




After Trump’s performance at the Helsinki press conference,
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats
issued a forceful statement
on where the US intelligence
community stands on Russian election interference. 

“The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the
best information and fact-based assessments possible for the
President and policymakers,” said Coats, the top US intelligence
official. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian
meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive
efforts to undermine our democracy.”

Trump at the White House on Tuesday: ‘I don’t see
any reason why it wouldn’t be
Russia’


Trump soccer ball
Putin
gave a soccer ball to Trump as a gift during their meeting in
Helsinki.


Grigory
Dukor/Reuters



After returning to the US, Trump on Tuesday claimed he’d
misspoke during his press conference with Putin. 

The president said he’d meant to say he didn’t see any
reason why it “wouldn’t” have been Russia that interfered in the
election. 

“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
it wouldn’t be Russia,'” he added. “Sort of a double
negative.”

Trump further stated he accepted the intelligence
community’s conclusion Russia interfered in the election, though
he added that it could be “other people also.”

Trump at the White House on Wednesday: Russia is not
planning future attacks on US elections


Trump
Trump
on Wednesday suggested Russia is not planning future attacks on
US elections.

Mark Wilson/Getty
Images


On Wednesday, Trump responded “no” when questioned by a
reporter if Russia was planning future attacks on the US
electoral system. 

This contradicted statements made by Coats earlier in the
week. 

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday:
Trump didn’t mean to say Russia isn’t planning attacks


sarah huckabee sanders
Sanders
on Wednesday told reporters Trump did not mean to suggest Russia
is not planning future attacks on the US electoral
system.


AP
Photo/Andrew Harnik



At Wednesday’s press briefing, Sanders said Trump did not
claim Russia isn’t planning future attacks on US elections,
claiming he was saying “no” to questions from
reporters. 

“I’m interpreting what the president said, I’m not
reversing it,” Sanders told NBC News’s Hallie Jackson. “I was in
the room as well and I didn’t take it the way you did.”

Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen on Thursday:
Russia didn’t interfere to help Trump


Nielsen
Homeland
Security chief on Thursday questioned whether Russia interfered
in the US presidential election to help President Donald Trump
win, contradicting the assessment of the US intelligence
community.

Reuters

During an interview at the Aspen Security Forum
on Thursday, Nielsen said she believed the US intelligence
community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016
presidential election, but she
questioned whether it did so to aid Trump’s chances of
winning
.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that the attempts to interfere
in our election infrastructure was to favor a particular
political party,” Nielsen said. 

As noted above, the US intelligence community explicitly
concluded that Russia, under the direction of Putin, meddled in
the election to bolster Trump’s chances of winning. 

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