Lights go out on Donald Trump as he backtracks on Russian election meddling remarks

In an embarrassing u-turn, the Republican, 72, now says he meant to say "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" that was responsible for interfering in the 2016 race.

Trump responded to a torrent of criticism after he openly questioned his own agencies’ finding while appearing to accept Putin's denial at their summit in Helsinki yesterday.

While speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, he added: "We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018.”

Trump insisted he had "full faith and support" for US intelligence agencies.

He said: "I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place."

During his statement, the lights in the room faded to complete darkness prompting Trump to joke that "that must be the intelligence agencies."

The Republican then added: "It could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all."

On Monday, the brash billionaire steered clear of any confrontation with the Kremlin strongman, going so far as to question US intelligence and last week's federal indictments of 12 Russians.

He said: "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.

"He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be.”

Back in the US, Trump’s statement led to strong criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

John Brennan, who served as CIA Director from 2013 until 2017, called New Yorker’s words "nothing short of treasonous."

Even staunch Trump supporter Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, called Trump's comments "the most serious mistake of his presidency" and said they "must be corrected immediately."

Trump had earlier attacked the ongoing FBI investigation into Russian election interference, dubbing it a "Rigged Witch Hunt" in a series of tweets.


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