WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he holds Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“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,” Trump told CBS News in an interview.
The U.S. president said that in his talks with Putin, he was “very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddled, we can’t have any of that.”
But Trump also appeared to question whether such statements would have an impact on Russia. “We’re also living in a grown-up world,” he said.
On Tuesday, Trump said he misspoke at a Helsinki news conference with Putin and that he accepted intelligence agency conclusions about Russian election meddling, although he hedged by deviating from his prepared notes to say “it could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.”
Trump stunned the world on Monday by shying away from criticizing the Russian leader for Moscow’s actions to undermine the election, sparking bipartisan fury at home and prompting calls by some U.S. lawmakers for tougher sanctions and other actions to punish Russia.
Critics have accused Trump of siding with Russia over his own country by failing to criticize Moscow for what U.S. intelligence agencies last year described as Russia’s election interference in an attempt to sow discord, aid Trump’s candidacy and disparage Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
Putin has denied the allegations.