President Donald Trump answered “no” on Wednesday after a reporter asked him whether Russia is still targeting the U.S.
Trump said on Tuesday that he accepted the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, though he immediately qualified his statement by adding that it “could be other people also.”
The remarks were an attempt at damage control after a news conference in Helsinki on Monday with Vladimir Putin in which he sided with the Russian president in criticizing U.S. allegations that the Kremlin meddled in the election and the Department of Justice investigation that followed.
On Wednesday, after the reporter asked during a cabinet meeting whether Russia is still targeting the U.S., Trump first tried to avoid answering by telling the assembled media “thank you,” usually a sign that he won’t take questions. But he then responded, lowering his voice, “No.”
The National Intelligence Director, Dan Coats, issued a statement on Monday after the Helsinki news conference that said Russia’s malign activity toward the U.S. is “ongoing.” Trump said at the news conference that he gave equal weight to Coats’s assertions that Moscow interfered in the election and to Putin’s denials.
“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy,” Coats said in his statement.