In the past four days, President Donald Trump has waffled between appearing to support Vladimir Putin’s denial of meddling in the 2016 election and claiming he holds the Russian president personally responsible for the interference.
During an interview with CBS News’ Jeff Glor at the White House Wednesday, Trump was asked about his stance on whether the Kremlin meddled — “Yeah and I’ve said that before, Jeff, I have said that numerous times before and I would say that that is true, yeah” — and whether he held Putin responsible for it.
“Well I would, because he’s in charge of the country,” he said. “Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So, certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.”
Since Trump’s press conference with Putin on Monday, the White House has scrambled to keep Trump’s message on Russian interference in the 2016 election accurate. Trump made a rare personal correction on Tuesday, telling reporters he misspoke and meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of saying he didn’t see any reason why Russia “would” interfere.
On Wednesday, Trump appeared to tell a reporter that “no,” the U.S. is not facing any current attacks from Russia, despite widespread knowledge to the contrary from his Justice Department and intelligence community. Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that Trump was just saying “no” to taking more questions from journalists.
Trump also told Glor that he was “very strong” when he spoke with Putin about butting out of U.S. elections, but said “we’re also living in a grown-up world” and questioned whether a “strong statement” would do much of anything.
“But I let him know we can’t have this, we’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be,” he said.