Pompeo: Trump 'has a complete and proper understanding' of Russian interference in US election

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday about President Donald Trump's recent meeting with Putin and about North Korea and Iran.
  • Pompeo said that Trump has a "complete and proper understanding" of Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • During a joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Trump had downplayed assessments from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in America's presidential election and instead appeared to side with Putin.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee May 23, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee May 23, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that President Donald Trump has a "complete and proper understanding" of Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

"I want you to know, President Trump has stated that he accepts our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election," Pompeo said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

Pompeo appeared before the committee to discuss Trump’s recent meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump's war of words with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his unprecedented summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

"He has a complete and proper understanding of what happened," Pompeo added. "I know, I briefed him on it for over a year," the nation's top diplomat said, referencing his time as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Trump insisted he and Putin meet at the beginning of the summit without any aides present — stirring concerns that the former KGB officer would outflank his American counterpart.

During a joint press conference after that meeting, Trump downplayed assessments from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in America's presidential election and instead appeared to side with Putin.

When asked, Putin said the Russian state "has never interfered and will never interfere" in American affairs, including the election process. "We should be guided by facts, not rumors," he added.

Trump responded by saying, "I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."

"I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia]," Trump added.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, July 16, 2018. 
Grigory Dukor | Reuters
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, July 16, 2018. 

A day later, Trump said that he had "full faith and support" for the American intelligence community and backed their assessment that Russia interfered in the election.

Trump told lawmakers in a meeting at the White House that he misspoke at the Helsinki press conference and had meant to say that he didn't see why Russia "wouldn’t" be responsible for the attack.

"I have felt very strongly that while Russia's actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying ... that I accept our American intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place," Trump said.

However, Trump added, "Could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there."

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has extended an invitation to Putin to visit the White House for another bilateral meeting. John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor, said Wednesday that the next meeting will occur "after the Russia witch hunt is over."

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