Speaking ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump declined to paint Russia as a villain in the recent U.S. presidential election.
In a speech delivered Thursday morning at Krasinski Square in central Warsaw, Trump greeted throngs of Polish citizens and reaffirmed America’s longstanding commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
While chastising Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and referring to its annexation of Crimea, Trump said:
“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defenses of civilization itself.”
Following his morning speech, Mr. Trump held a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda and faced a question over alleged Russian attempts to hack into the U.S. electoral framework.
Asked by MSNBC White House correspondent Hallie Jackson if Trump was prepared to admit Russia definitively meddled in the November 2016 election, Trump was non-committal.
“I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere . . . It’s been happening for many, many years.”
Trump followed immediately by criticizing former President Obama, who Trump said was aware of alleged interference, and did nothing to stop it.
“My big question is, why did Obama do nothing about it from August until November? They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked. I think he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and he said: ‘Let’s not do anything about it,”’ Trump stated.
Mr. Trump then expanded on his answer to cast doubt on the conclusions drawn by U.S. intelligence services, which, according to most media sources, have repeatedly claimed to have unanimously agreed Russia attempted to influence the presidential election.
[Business Insider] [Reuters] [current events 24/7/YouTube] [Photo courtesy AP via SFGate]