Trump publicly sides with Putin on election interference

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The president said he doesn’t ‘see any reason’ why Russia would have wanted to hack Democratic Party servers.

President Donald Trump on Monday publicly sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies, refusing to condemn the Kremlin for interference in the 2016 election and saying that “I don’t see any reason” why Russia would have hacked Democratic computer servers.

Trump’s remarkable statements, during a joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland, after holding a two-hour one-on-one meeting with Putin, came after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians on Friday over allegations of involvement in the state-ordered election-interference operation.

Trump repeatedly attacked the FBI, praised Putin as a “good competitor,” refused to say Russia was accountable for any aspects of fraying U.S.-Russia relations, and attacked Mueller’s inquiry as “a disaster for our country.”

Putin, for his part, denied that Russia interfered in the U.S election, though he declared that he did want Trump to win the 2016 presidential election.

“Yes, I did,” Putin said. “Yes I did.”

While Trump seemed ready to take Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence chiefs on the question of Russian election meddling, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was quick to counter the U.S. president, issuing a statement that the U.S. intelligence community has “been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

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