President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Russia is no longer targeting the United States with cyber attacks, a conclusion that is at odds with the one repeatedly asserted by Trump's own intelligence services.
During a meeting of his Cabinet on Wednesday, Trump was asked by a pool reporter whether Russia is still "targeting" the United States.
"No," said the president.
Later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump was saying "no" to more questions, and not answering the specific question about Russia. Trump did keep talking to reporters at the Cabinet meeting, however.
He repeated his claim that no other president had been as tough on Russia as he has. "I think President Putin knows that better than anybody, certainly a lot better than the media," Trump said.
Dan Coats, Trump's director of national intelligence, had a very different assessment about Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections as recently as Monday. In a statement, Coats said: "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."
And on Friday, Coats compared Russia's current cyber efforts to warning signs that emerged before the 9/11 attacks. "The warning lights are blinking red again," Coats said at a Washington, D.C. think tank. "Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack."
Trump's latest round of comments also came one day after the president touted his administration's aggressive efforts to prevent future Russian meddling.