The Central Intelligence Agency shot down Donald Trump’s supportive comments of Vladimir Putin on Saturday, saying they stand by their initial assessment that Russia did, in fact, interfere in the 2016 election.
In a statement, the CIA said the agency’s director, Mike Pompeo, remains confident in their January 2017 report, which concluded that Russia waged a disinformation campaign in the U.S. to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favor.
“The director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled: ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.’ The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed,” said a CIA spokesperson, according to The Hill.
The CIA’s new comments stand in stark contrast to the reality-detached president, who said on Saturday that he “really” believes Putin when he says that Russia did not meddle in the presidential campaign.
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump said, continuing: “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
Trump’s comments came after he met with Vladimir Putin in Vietnam during his trip to Asia, and they fly in the face of the entire U.S. intelligence community – from the FBI to the NSA to his own CIA – which confidently believes Russia attacked American democracy to help Trump beat Clinton.
The president stands alone in his belief that Russia and Putin are innocent, and his stubborn refusal to acknowledge what happened during the 2016 campaign will only make it more likely to happen in future elections.