Pres. Trump claims he misspoke in Helsinki after bipartisan condemnation of his comments

President Trump is playing defense a day after his one on one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Early Tuesday morning, the president was blaming “Fake News” on Twitter for the coverage on his comments at the Helsinki press conference.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”

But Tuesday afternoon, President Trump reversed course and claimed he misspoke while discussing election meddling during news conference with Putin. He clarified his words in a statement to reports saying he meant to say he doesn’t see why Russia “wouldn’t” be responsible.

“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,'” the president said. “The sentence should’ve been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.'”

The president added that he believes America’s intelligence agencies are correct that Russia did interfere in the 2016 US election, and he promised his administration would do “everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018.”

On Capitol Hill, Republicans appeared split over how to move forward.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Othe Republican senators called it “bizarre,” “shameful,” and a “bad day for the US.”

“Anyone who watched that press conference, including the president himself, would say that is not his finest hour,” Ohio Representative Warren Davidson added. “I think President Trump went out of his way to bring Russia into the community of nations.”

Both the leaders of the Republican controlled House and Senate also weighed in.

“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement adding that Russia “remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”
 
“We believe the European Union countries are our friends, and the Russians are not,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Leaders of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of staunch conservatives, avoided any serious criticism of President Trump. Republican Jim Jordan turned the attention towards the President’s other international accomplishments.

“Let’s look at some of the actions have taken place over the last 18 months from the administration (North Korea, Iran deal) when discussing the Helsinki summit,” the Ohio representative said. “There are sanctions against Russia. We’re out of the Iran Deal, so overall people are pretty darn pleased.”

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are not so happy. They plan to hold hearings next week and grill Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about what happened in Helsinki. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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