A day after publicly reaffirming his confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies, President Donald Trump has rejected their findings once again.
Trump told reporters Wednesday that he did not believe Russia was continuing to target the U.S., as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats suggested last week.
“We’re doing very well,” Trump said. “Probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. There’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.”
Hours later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump was saying “no” to taking more questions ― not responding to the reporter’s question about Russia. But video shows that Trump continued to take questions after appearing to answer the inquiry about Russia.
Several reporters who were present, including the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, tweeted that Trump had “clearly” responded to the Russia question.
Coats said Friday that Russia was “the most aggressive foreign actor” carrying out cyberattacks against the U.S.
“The warning signs are there,” Coats said at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. “The system is blinking. It is why I believe we are at a critical point.”
“Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack,” he said, adding that Russia continues “their efforts to undermine our democracy.”
Trump came under fire earlier this week for apparently siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the U.S. intelligence community during a press conference in Helsinki.
“President Putin just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said Monday, referring to U.S. intelligence agencies’ unanimous determination that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Following intense backlash from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Trump attempted to walk back his statement on Tuesday, claiming that he mistakenly said “would” instead of “wouldn’t.”
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” he said Tuesday, appearing to read from prepared remarks, before suggesting that it “could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
This story has been updated with Huckabee Sanders’ comments.