“I do not see any reason why it would be” Russia, he said when asked if he believed Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies.
In an astonishing news conference on Monday, President Trump, standing next to Vladimir Putin, rejected the overwhelming consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
“They said, ‘I think it is Russia.’ I have President Putin. He just said it is not Russia,” Trump said in Helsinki after a two-hour private meeting with the Russian leader. “I will say this: I do not see any reason why it would be.”
Trump’s apparent willingness to take Putin’s word on the alleged interference coincides with a decline in U.S. relations with its closest allies around the world. Trump has criticized Canada, Mexico, and Europe on trade, NATO on defense, the U.K. government on its Brexit plan, and Germany and Sweden on immigration and crime. European capitals, especially, will have watched Monday’s meeting and subsequent news conference closely. Trump’s meeting last week with NATO allies was marked for its rancor. He called the EU a “foe” on trade, and criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May for her “soft” approach toward Brexit and suggested it may cost her a free-trade deal with the U.S. (He since walked back those remarks.)