Mon, Nov 13, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Trump believes US spy agencies, under the heads he chose

Reuters, HANOI

US President Donald Trump yesterday said he sided with US intelligence agencies, under their current leadership, when it came to Russian meddling in last year’s US election.

He was speaking a day after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and saying he believed the Russian leader when he denied accusations that Russia meddled, despite US intelligence agencies’ conclusion of Russian interference.

“As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted,” Trump told a news conference in Vietnam. “As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”

US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia did meddle in the election that brought Trump to the White House, but he has been skeptical.

In his comments he was careful to make clear he sided with the intelligence agencies under his leadership.

Trump has come under fire for the comments after his brief meeting with Putin on Saturday, with some critics suggesting it meant he believed the Russian president before US intelligence agencies.

Trump said that he still believed Putin did not think there had been Russian meddling.

“I believe that President Putin really feels, and feels strongly, that he did not meddle in our election,” Trump said, while adding: “What he believes is what he believes.”

Trump said he was not interested in arguing with Putin over meddling and wanted to get on with Russia to work on world problems including Syria, North Korea and Ukraine.

He also accused Democrats of using the issue to try to sabotage relations between the two countries, putting lives at risk.

In a tweet sent yesterday from Hanoi, Trump bashed the “haters and fools” he said were questioning his efforts to improve relations with Russia and accused critics of “playing politics” and hurting the country.

Trump’s Saturday comments sparked criticism from lawmakers with ties to the intelligence community.

US Senator John McCain, a Republican said in a statement that Trump’s faith in Putin’s denial was “naive.”

“There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community,” McCain wrote, referring to Putin’s career in Soviet intelligence. “Vladimir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart.”

Additional reporting by AP

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