Standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump today suggested he had equal confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies and Putin when it comes to whether Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump said that he brought up the alleged interference -- most recently described in new indictments of individual Russian intelligence officers -- with Putin, but Putin offered what Trump called an "extremely strong and powerful" denial during the bilateral summit in Helsinki.
Asked directly who he trusts more, the American intelligence community or the Russian government, Trump said he had "confidence in both parties."
"I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia]," Trump said.
In the past, Trump has stated that he does have confidence in the analysis by the U.S. intelligence community that said Russia attempted to interfere in the election at Putin's direction. But other times the president publicly expresses doubt, claiming it's all a fiction to excuse Hillary Clinton's loss in the presidential race.
Today Putin again publicly denied the Russian government's involvement and offered to allow American law enforcement officers to come to Russia to witness the questioning of the Russian intelligence officers named by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
In exchange, however, Putin said he wanted Russian law enforcement officers to have the same access to individuals in the U.S. who Russia believes have committed crimes against Russia. Putin specifically mentioned Bill Browder, a vocal Kremlin critic and a powerful force behind the creation of U.S. sanctions against Russian figures. For his part, Trump called that an "incredible offer."
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