Trump says he was 'very strong' against Putin and would hold him personally responsible for election meddling

  • President Donald Trump said that he would hold Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for meddling in the 2016 presidential election because "he's in charge of the country."
  • Trump said he was "very strong" on Putin during a private meeting at the Helsinki summit and suggested that his stance was firmer than President Barack Obama's.
  • Despite the apparent disagreement between US intelligence assessments and Putin's denials that Russia had interfered with the 2016 election, Trump stopped short of alleging Putin was lying.

Following the wave of bipartisan concern after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump said he would hold Putin personally responsible for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

During an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor on Wednesday, Trump said he agreed with the US intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered with the 2016 election: "I have said that numerous times before, and I would say that is true."

The remarks comes just two days after Trump was criticized for saying he did not "see any reason why" Russia would be responsible for meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election.

Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, Trump refused to back the US intelligence community's assessment, and instead, railed against the FBI and his political opponents.

On Tuesday, Trump walked back his remarks and read a statement saying he accepted the intelligence community's conclusion. But Trump also appeared to undercut his statement and suggested "other people" could have interfered with the election as well.

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President Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin in Finland
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND - JULY 16, 2018: The national flags of Russia and the United States seen ahead of a meeting of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they meet in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin react at the end of the joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
U.S. President Donald Trump receives a football from Russia's President Vladimir Putin during their joint news conference after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and First lady Melania Trump pose for a picture with a football during a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US First Lady Melania Trump, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and US President Donald Trump (L-R) after a news conference at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump holds a football thrown to her by U.S. President Donald Trump during his joint news conference with Russia's President Vladimir Putin after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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Asked if he would single out Putin and hold him "personally responsible," Trump said to Glor that he would.

"Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country," Trump said to CBS News. "So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes."

Trump also noted that he was "very strong" on Putin during a private meeting at the summit and suggested that his stance was firmer than his predecessor's.

"Very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling, we can't have any of that," Trump said. "We're also living in a grown-up world. Will a strong statement — you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement, nobody heard it."

"And that statement was not acceptable. Didn't get very much play relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable," Trump said.

"I let him [Putin] know we can't have this, we're not going to have it, and that's the way it's going to be."

'I don't want to get into whether or not he's lying'

Trump's comments during the interview and US intelligence assessments conflicted with Putin's denials that Russia had interfered with the 2016 election.

Trump previously cited Putin's "extremely strong and powerful" denials of such meddling and appeared to endorse a plan to allow Russian investigators to work with special counsel Robert Mueller's team to question 12 Russians indicted last week by Mueller.

But Trump stopped short of alleging Putin was dishonest and said he did not "want to get into whether or not he's lying."

"I can only say that I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently constituted," Trump said to CBS News. "When they tell me something, it means a lot."

Watch clips of the CBS Evening News interview here:

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