WASHINGTON – Hours after President Donald Trump seemingly claimed Russia was no longer targeting the United States, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sought to clarify that statement.
“We believe the threat still exists,” she told reporters Wednesday, explaining that the president’s earlier statement was in response to a different question.
The news comes after National Intelligence Director Dan Coats warned that cyberthreats from the Kremlin are “blinking red.”
Meanwhile, speaking at Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Trump touted his European trip – which included meetings at NATO and with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki – as a “tremendous success.”
“There has never been a president as tough on Russia,” said Trump.
The president’s words follow a string of seemingly contradictory statements regarding Russia – specifically whether or not Moscow meddled in the 2016 US presidential election.
The president initially appeared to back Putin over his own intelligence community’s assessment that Russia did, in fact, interfere.
However, one day after his meeting and joint news conference with Putin, Trump walked back his comments, saying he “misspoke.”
After reviewing a transcript of the press conference, he says he meant to say, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia” who attempted to meddle in America’s 2016 presidential election.
Meanwhile, Sanders told reporters Wednesday, “The president and his administration is working hard to make sure Russia doesn’t meddle in our elections as previously stated.”
She added that it’s “our goal” to stop any foreign meddling and that Trump made clear during his meeting with Putin to “stay out of US elections.”