Donald Trump said Sunday he backed US intelligence agencies who concluded that Russia hadallegedly meddled in the 2016 US presidential election, but repeated his trust in the sincerity of Vladimir Putin’s denials and slammed critics of his relationship with the Russian leader.
Addressing a press conference in Hanoi, Trump was asked to clarify comments he had made on Air Force One the day before about Putin’s insistence that Moscow had never tried to affect the outcome of the US vote.
“I believe he feels he and Russia did not meddle in the election,” Trump said.
“As to whether or not I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies. I believe in our… intelligence agencies,” he added.
In his barrage of tweets earlier Sunday, Trump slammed “haters and fools” who questioned his efforts to improve ties with Russia.
“There (sic) always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!” he said.
Trump was in Hanoi for a brisk visit with Vietnam’s top communist leaders to drum up trade deals and seek further support on containing North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions, which have been a dominant theme on each leg of his Asia tour.
Citing descriptions by North Korean officials and state media of him as an “old” man, another Trump tweet suggested he was disappointed by what he took to be a personal attack from the North’s young leader.
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Trump wrote.
“Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” he added.
Later at the press conference, he insisted he hadn’t been joking about eventually befriending a man he denounced just last week as a “twisted” dictator.
“It’s certainly a possibility. If that did happen, it would be a good thing,” he told reporters.