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Trump says he misspoke on Russia meddling

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald Trump says he meant the opposite when he said in Helsinki that he doesn't see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Posted: Jul. 17, 2018 3:48 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump says he meant the opposite when he said in Helsinki that he doesn't see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Back at the White House on Tuesday, the president told reporters that he said he meant he doesn't see why Russia "wouldn't" be responsible.

He also said he accepts the American intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the election, but he denied that his campaign had colluded in the effort.

Trump spoke a day after returning to the U.S. to nearly universal condemnation of his performance at Russian President Vladmir Putin's side in Helsinki. Putin said he wanted Trump to win the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says President Trump is trying to "squirm" away from his comments about Russian interference in the 2016 election because he didn't have the courage to stand up to Putin.

Schumer told reporters Tuesday that Trump's clarification is "24 hours too late and in the wrong place."

The New York Democrat's comments came moments after Trump backtracked from remarks made at the summit in which he sided with Putin's denials, rather than the findings of U.S. intelligence officials, about Russian interference.

Schumer said if the president can't directly tell Putin he's wrong and "our intelligence agencies are right, it's ineffective."

He said it's another sign of weakness that allows Putin "to take advantage" of Trump.

In Helsinki, Trump delivered no condemnation of Russia's interference and refused to say he believes American intelligence agencies over Russia's denials of meddling.

House Republicans used a party-line vote to block a Democratic measure aimed at condemning President Trump's comments about Russia. It was the first vote testing how Congress will react to Trump's remarks.

By 230-183, the House rejected a Democratic measure endorsing Speaker Paul Ryan's remarks criticizing Russia. The Wisconsin Republican said "there is no question" Russia interfered in the elections and said there is "no moral equivalence" between the two countries.

The two-page Democratic proposal summarized Ryan's points and said the House "expresses its agreement" with them.

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