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White House, officials clash over Putin's probe offer

20 July 2018

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, sparred with reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Moscow continues to pose a threat to the U.S. electoral system, Sputnik reported.

But at a later news briefing, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the president was saying "no" to answering questions not to the question itself.

Leahy called on his colleagues across the aisle to condemn the president's actions "which were as risky as they were shameful", he said. Vega said on Twitter that she thought the president was responding to her question, not ushering reporters out. "Do I believe that? No". Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said of Sanders' interpretation.

When President Donald Trump said "no" to a reporter who asked if he thinks Russian Federation still is targeting US elections, he meant that he would not take any questions, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at today's press briefing.

U.S. President Donald Trump accused Wednesday his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of being responsible for Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, also responded to the initial report, telling reporters that "everything I've seen from the intelligence community suggests Russian Federation is interfering with the 2018 election". "Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country".

Putin and Trump first held talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.

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Representative Andy Harris, a member of the Caucus, said: "I disregard and discount anything that involves the mainstream media press".

CHANG: So Glor also asked the president what he said to Putin about election interference during their private two-hour meeting on Monday.

But when asked if Russian Federation was still targeting the United States, Trump clearly appeared to reply "no" - an assertion that would contradict the assessment of USA intelligence chief Dan Coats, who said Monday that Russian Federation was involved in "ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy".

The answer differed from the one he gave during the press conference with Putin on Monday, when he said Putin was "extremely strong and powerful in his denial" and said "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russian Federation.

Putin offered that they might allow Mueller to interview those Russian officials that were indicted for meddling in the US election, but on the condition that USA citizens and officials be made to answer Russian investigators as well. But on Tuesday he said he misspoke and had accepted their conclusions about Russian meddling, although he hedged by deviating from his prepared notes to say "it could be other people also". He also didn't back down from comments blaming U.S. "foolishness and stupidity" for the deterioration of relations between Washington and Moscow, rather than Moscow's election meddling, its military incursions into Ukraine and Syria, and its hostility toward U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

According to Sanders, Trump was saying "no" to answering more questions.

"The president said, "Thank you very much, ' and was saying 'no" to answering further questions", Sanders said. "Maybe there are reasons within the United Kingdom but nobody wants to look at the issue now, they just see the ungrounded accusations", he said.

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

White House, officials clash over Putin's probe offer