Pence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report

Pence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS to label white supremacist group as terrorist organization for first time Trump administration eyes Afghan security forces funding for aid cut: report Trump says 40,000 Americans have been repatriated who were stranded abroad MORE both reportedly urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE to clarify remarks he made Monday in a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin and express support for the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies.

A source familiar with a three-way conversation between Pence, Pompeo and Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday told NBC News that the two urged the president to "make clarifications" on his statements Monday in which he appeared to reject the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered during the 2016 presidential election.

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Trump later told reporters at the White House on Tuesday afternoon that he misspoke during his comments alongside Putin in Helsinki. The president maintained that he meant to say that he didn't see any reason why it "wouldn't" be Russia that had interfered in the election, after saying he couldn't see why it "would be" Russia.

"I have felt very strongly that while Russia's actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying...that I accept our American intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place," the president said Tuesday, adding that he had "full faith and support" for U.S. intelligence agencies.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment about the NBC report. A spokesperson for Pence didn't immediately return The Hill's request for comment on Tuesday.

Trump's initial remarks made while standing next to Putin caused widespread outrage in Washington, earning condemnations from Republicans including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEsper faces tough questions on dismissal of aircraft carrier's commander Democratic super PAC targets McSally over coronavirus response GOP senator suspending campaign fundraising, donating paycheck amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (Ariz.) and many Democrats, some of whom called for the president's impeachment.

Trump on Tuesday appeared to still leave open the possibility that Russia was not involved in meddling in the 2016 election, telling reporters that it "could be other people also, there’s a lot of people out there."

The president nevertheless pledged to confront future Russian attempts to meddle in U.S. political activities, including the upcoming November midterms.

"We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018," he said.