CIA: Director ‘stands by’ Russian interference assessment
The CIA on Saturday said its director, Mike Pompeo, “stands by” the intelligence community’s declassified report that concluded Russia ran an influence campaign aimed at helping President Trump win the White House in 2016.
“The director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled: ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.’ The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed,” a spokesperson for the agency said when contacted by The Hill.
The statement follows President Trump’s comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated denials that Moscow was involved in election interference, as well as a meeting in Vietnam between the two world leaders.
The CIA did not comment on Trump’s meeting with Putin.
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters Saturday.
“But I just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election,” he continued. “He did not do what they’re saying he did.”
Trump and Putin spoke this weekend in Vietnam during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Trump said he believes Putin “means it” when he denies that Russia meddled in the election.
“He just — every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe — I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said. “But he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ I think he’s very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth.”
“I think that he is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it,” Trump said when asked if he believed Putin’s denial.
The president also mocked those who led the intelligence agencies when the report was released in early January, calling them “political hacks” and slamming the investigations into Russian interference as a “Democratic hit job.”
Trump has long argued that the investigation into Russia’s election meddling and any potential ties between his campaign staff and the Kremlin is politically motivated and an excuse for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s loss last year.
Updated 2:46 p.m.