Donald Trump has sensationally claimed he misspoke when he used a joint press conference with Vladimir Putin to say he saw no reason why Russia would have meddled in the US election.
Following a torrent of criticism in the wake of his controversial meeting with the Russian President, Trump, now back on American soil, has attempted to backtrack on his remarks.
During the press conference, he appeared to clearly side with the Kremlin over his intelligence agencies, who accuse Putin of orchestrating cyber-attacks on the US and for attempts to undermine the US election which saw Trump elected.
Standing alongside Putin on Monday, Trump said: “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. 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.”
Now in Washington, Trump is attempting to deny the substance of what he said.
He told reporters at the White House: “In a key statement in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’.”
Trump was also forced to underline his support for his own government agencies.
“I’ll begin by stating that I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies, always have” he said. “I have always felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that, and I’ve said this many times, I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.”
However, he quickly added: “It could be other people. There is a lot of people out there.”
Trump attracted the ire not just of his opponents in the Democrats, but from voices within his own party, including from Senator John McCain who called the press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.
John Brennan, a former director of the CIA, tweeted that Trump was “nothing short of treasonous”.