President Trump speaking in Vietnam Sunday clarified his comments on whether he believes Russia meddled in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, saying "I believe in our intel agencies."
Trump had told reporters on Air Force One Saturday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he didn't meddle in the election.
"Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump said earlier in the weekend.
The comment quickly became the subject of backlash, prompting Trump to clarify the comments in a joint press conference with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang on Sunday morning local time.
"What I said is, I believe [Putin] believes that," Trump said. "I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies."
"I believe in our intel agencies. I've worked with them very strongly," Trump added.
Trump and Putin met Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Danang, Vietnam. They did not have a formal meeting scheduled, but according to Trump will issue a joint statement. Trump said the two leaders had "two or three very short conversations” during the larger forum and discussed Syria.
Trump said Putin is "very insulted” by the suggestion Moscow attempted to hack the election.
Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia did attempt to influence the U.S. election. Several congressional committees, as well as a Justice Department special prosector, are currently investigating how much influence Russia had in the presidential election and whether the Kremlin colluded with either of the candidates.
His comments siding with intel agencies also come after he hit former U.S. intelligence officials by name, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey.
"I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks," Trump said, according to White House pool reports. He was discussing the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump.
"So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey," he continued. "Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker.”