UPDATED with more Trump interview: President Donald Trump told CBS News’s Jeff Glor he would hold Russian ruler Vladimir Putin accountable for election meddling “because he’s in charge of the country.”
Glor told Trump that he, Trump, had said he agreed with U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016.
“Yeah and I’ve said that before,” Trump says. “I’ve said that numerous times before. And I would say that that is true, yeah.”
Just as often, Trump has said it’s just as likely to be China, some other unnamed entity, or a 400 pound guy on his bed. CBS News did not fact check Trump in real time.
Glor did, however, tell Trump, “But you haven’t condemned Putin, specifically,” and asked POTUS if he holds Putin personally responsible for Russia’s election interference.
“Well, I would, because he’s in charge of the country,” Trump said. “Just like I hold myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country.”
“So certainly, as the leader of a country, you would have to hold him responsible, yes.”
Glor asked for details of that conversation in Helsinki. Trump met with Putin for more than 2 hours with no other American present except a State Department translator.
“Very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling, we can’t have any of that,” Trump offered. “Now, look. We’re also living in a grown-up world.”
If you put your money on this being the point in the interview at which Trump deflected the talk to attack Obama, congratulations:
“Will a strong statement – you know – President Obama supposedly made a strong statement,” Trump continued. “Nobody heard it. What they did hear is a statement he made to Putin’s very close friend. And that statement was not acceptable. Didn’t get very much play relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable. But 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.”
Glor noted Putin has denied meddling in the U.S. presidential election, wondering, if Trump believes his intel agencies, is Putin lying to him.
“I don’t want to get into whether or not he’s lying,” Trump said, continuing to refuse to say anything negative about the Russian strongman.
“I can only say that I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies” as currently constituted. “We have excellent people in the agencies, and when they tell me something it means a lot.”
Reminded DNI Dan Coats says the threat is ongoing, Trump chest-thumped “it better not be; it better not be.”
“Do you think any U.S. intelligence agencies are out to get you?” Glor asked the President of the United States.
“Certainly in the past it’s been terrible,” Trumps said, naming former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, among others. “I can’t have any confidence in the past, but I can have lot of confidence in the present and the future.”
Glor also had interviewed Trump in Helsinki on Saturday, before the president’s meeting with Putin, during which he told Glor his doctrine is peace through strength. But after his Helsinki meeting, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Trump showed weakness, calling the Helsinki press conference the most serious mistake of Trump’s presidency to date.
“I totally disagree,” Trump dismissed. I think I did great at the news conference…You had people that said, ‘You should have started screaming in his face.’ We’re living in the real world, okay.”
Asked who gives him the best advice, Trump answered “the level of dishonesty in your profession is extremely high.”
Asked what “tangible” emerged from his conversation with Putin at which no one from Trump’s administration was present, Trump said “a lot.”
Putin, Trump insisted, “feels good about” protecting Israel. Trump also claimed Putin said he would “help” work toward denuclearization of North Korea, adding “he thinks I”m doing a great job” on that front.
The CBS Evening News anchor reminded Trump he had previously said he would sit down with Special Counsel Mueller. Responded Trump: “There is no collusion. I didn’t deal with Russia. I had nothing to do with Russia with respect to my race. I won that race rather easily. And, I can tell you that I think, frankly, 2020 is going to be even better than we did in ’16.”