White House corrects official transcript to reflect Putin saying he wanted Trump to win
The White House on Thursday updated the official transcript of President Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin to include a previously omitted question about whether Putin wanted Trump to win the 2016 election.
Several reports noted in recent days that the official transcript did not include the first part of a question to Putin by Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, who asked if the Russian president wanted Trump to win. Instead, it only read: “And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”
Putin responded to the question by acknowledging he wanted Trump to win.
“Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal,” he said.
Ten days after the press conference, the transcript has been updated to include the full question.
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) July 26, 2018
The White House told CNN on Wednesday that the mistake was not malicious, explaining that the audio level on Mason’s microphone was not raised in time for the stenographer to capture the beginning of his question because a translator was still speaking.
White House stenographers are career officials, not political appointees.
Trump has endured criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike for his performance at the summit with Putin in Finland, where he cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump attempted to walk back those comments the next day and expressed confidence in his intelligence officials, but he undercut his own message by saying others besides Russia could have interfered. A few days later, Trump referred to Russian interference as a “big hoax.”
After days of mixed messages on Russian interference, the president tweeted on Tuesday that he’s “concerned” Russia will attempt to meddle in November’s midterm elections in an effort to help Democrats. He provided no evidence for his claim but asserted that because of his policies toward Russia, “They definitely don’t want Trump!”