Trump ‘clarifies’ Putin comment: ‘I believe that he believes’ he didn’t meddle in the election

On his flight to Hanoi Saturday, Donald Trump once again appeared to take the word of Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. POTUS told reporters aboard Air Force One that when he met with Putin at the APEC summit, the Russian president once again denied any meddling in the election.

“I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said. President shit-for-brains finally “clarified” those remarks.

“What I said, I’m surprised there’s any conflict on this, what I said there is that I believe he believes that, and that’s very important for somebody to believe,” Trump said during a press conference in Hanoi Sunday morning. “I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.”

“As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership,” Trump continued. “I believe in our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies. I’ve worked with them very strongly.”

If I’m understanding this correctly, Trump’s official position is that he agrees with the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community, which is that Russia engaged in a wide-ranging campaign to disrupt the 2016 election at the behest of Vladimir Putin. Putin himself, however, is also somehow unaware of this operation, which I must reiterate, the ODNI stated he ordered.

Just a quick reminder, this paragraph is written in bold in the January report on Russian election interference:

We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

In fairness, the report had very few charts and maps and was longer than one page, so there’s no way Trump made it to that paragraph, which appears on the second page of the introduction to the report. Perhaps he also missed the very first section header on page 1 of the actual report: “Putin Ordered Campaign To Influence US Election.”

Again, healthy skepticism of anything the U.S. intelligence community says is encouraged. That’s not what Trump’s doing though. He’s trying to hedge his bets on a topic that he can’t actually hedge on.

[Screenshot via MSNBC]