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19th Jul 2018

Trump says he holds Putin personally responsible for US election interference

James Dawson

He’s 180ed following his press conference with the Russian leader earlier this week

Donald Trump has said that he holds Russia’s president Vladimir Putin personally responsible for Moscow’s suspected interference in the 2016 US election.

It comes after Trump held a press conference with Putin in Helsinki on Monday, in which the US leader was accused of not pressing his Russian counterpart on the election meddling that both the CIA and the FBI have concluded was conducted by Moscow.

However, speaking to CBS on Wednesday, Trump said he considered Putin culpable for the interference as he is Russia’s leader.

“I would because he’s in charge of the country just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country,” Trump said. “So certainly as the leader of the country you would have to hold him responsible.”

In the interview, he also claimed he put it to Putin in “very strong” terms that the US would not tolerate any repeat of the interference in future elections. “I let him know we can’t have this. We’re not going to have it and that’s the way it’s going to be,” he added.

The US president drew heavy criticism earlier in the week when – whilst standing side-by-side with Putin – he appeared to reject reports by his own intelligence services about election interference.

President Trump said: “My people came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Following widespread criticism, he then 180ed on his comments, claiming that he had misspoken in the conference and had meant to say “wouldn’t” rather than “would”.

“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,'” Trump said on Tuesday. “The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ ” he said. “Sort of a double negative.”