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Trump Says He Holds Putin Personally Responsible for Election Meddling

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US President Donald Trump told CBS News in an interview aired Wednesday that he holds Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

When asked in an interview with CBS if he held Putin responsible for the alleged interference, Trump 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."

When asked what he said to Putin about the issue that has dogged US-Russia relations, Trump replied that he was "very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling, we can't have any of that."

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington - Sputnik International
White House: 'Threat' From Russia Still Exists
Moreover, Donald Trump said in a television interview he accepted Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats' view that Russia continues to be a threat to the US election system.

"He's an expert, this is what he does, he's been doing a very good job. I have tremendous faith in Dan Coats, and if he says that I would accept that. I will tell you though: it better not be, it better not be," Donald Trump told CBS News in an interview.

Trump said at the White House on Wednesday that Russia is no longer targeting the United States. "No," Trump said when asked if Russia was still targeting the country. Trump also added that his administration is doing very well with Russia. He said no other US president has been as tough as he has been on the Kremlin and Putin knows it — and is not happy about it.

However, White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later on Wednesday that Trump had not denied that Russia was trying to influence the election when he answered "no" to a reporter’s question, but was instead simply refusing to answer any questions.

Sanders added that Trump made it very clear to Putin during their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday that Russia needs to stay out of US elections.

On Monday, Trump and Putin held their first ever full-fledged meeting in Helsinki's presidential palace. The two leaders discussed numerous issues of mutual interest, as well as some international and regional problems.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 - Sputnik International
Trump on Twitter: 'Putin and I Got Along Well Which Truly Bothered Many Haters'
Trump said earlier on Wednesday that he got along well with Putin in Helsinki and promised that "big results" would come from the summit.

"So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!" Trump tweeted.

The US president pointed out that opponents of Trump's attempt to establish good ties with Putin would even prefer a military conflict with Russia instead of tolerating improvement of relations.

Dan Coats testifies before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on his nomination to be the next director of national intelligence in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC - Sputnik International
Coats Refuses to Comment on Reports Trump Asked Him to Push Back on Russia Probe
The US president came under fire for downplaying the intelligence assessment that Russia allegedly interfered in the 2016 election during a joint presser with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

The US intelligence community released a report in January 2017 which it concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Russian officials have repeatedly denied the allegations, noting that no evidence has been revealed to back up the claims. Moreover, Russian officials have said the allegations have been made up as an excuse for a candidate’s election loss and to deflect public opinion from actual instances of election fraud, corruption as well as other issues.

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