During a meeting in July between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the American president appeared to favor the story provided by the Kremlin in regard to their alleged involvement in interference during the 2016 presidential election over that of the CIA — sending the American intelligence agency into “panic mode,” according to a report by Business Insider. Trump’s revelation occurred during a press conference following a meeting between the two world leaders in Helsinki, Finland.
Speaking to the Washington Post, an American intelligence official admitted that “there was this gasp” that could be heard at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia — adding, “You literally had people in panic mode watching it at Langley. On all floors. Just shock.”
Neither the CIA nor the White House responded to a request for a comment by Business Insider.
The investigation by the CIA in collaboration with others in the American intelligence community concluded that, in order to improve Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, Putin ordered Russian intelligence to interfere with the process. Putin has been adamant that all of those allegations are false.
Since being sworn in as president, Trump has regularly expressed doubts about the validity of Russian involvement in the election results, often drawing accusations of flip-flopping on the issue by his critics, according to a report by Business Insider. Trump’s positioning on the subject has raised suspicions in regard to the accusations of collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin, but the president has been clear that the connection does not exist when questioned on the matter.
During Trump and Putin’s July meeting, the president lent credence to Russia’s innocence, describing Putin’s denials as “strong and powerful.”
At the time, Trump said that he couldn’t “see any reason why” Russia would involve themselves in the 2016 election, adding, “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Following the remarks, Trump was faced with an immense backlash — as accusations began to fly that he had chosen the side of Putin and Russia over his own intelligence community. Trump went on to clarify his statement, saying that he had previously misspoken, according to a report by Business Insider.
In his clarifying statement, Trump said, “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” as he added that it “could be other people also, there are a lot of people out there.”
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