Putin: Meeting with Trump was "successful"

Putin: Meeting with Trump was

Last week, President Donald Trump said Montenegro could start World War III. (They told him afterwards that any journalist would have asked the same question at that point in the press conference.) Over the next few days, Trump then attempted a stunningly awful walk back, called the media the "real enemy" of the American people, and came up with some creative ways to double down and deliberately extend the whole mess.

Trump and Montenegro have a bit of a history: The U.S. president appeared to shove Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic aside at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit a year ago, the first at which Montenegro was represented.

Trump waited 27 hours, sent five tweets and sat for two television interviews after his initial comments in Helsinki before claiming he'd used a confusing "double negative" and meant "would" instead of "wouldn't" in a key sentence at his press conference about who was responsible for election meddling.

Earlier in the week, Coats had also seemed to distance himself from the White House when he issued a statement reaffirming the intelligence agencies' unanimous conclusion that Russian Federation had interfered in the 2016 election and that one of Putin's goals was to help Trump's campaign.

The statement also said the U.S. has given more than $1 billion to Ukraine since conflict broke out there following the annexation of Crimea by Russian Federation in 2014. Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic like Slovenia, the home country of US first lady Melania Trump, is known for its long Adriatic Sea beaches.

In the same interview on Thursday, Coats publicly broke with Trump over his decision to meet privately with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, saying, "if he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way".

"But can you just clarify, you don't believe that to be the case?" the reporter asked a third time. "They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you're in World War III", Trump responded.

Dan Coats said his "admittedly awkward response" to news of a second summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin "was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions" of Mr Trump.

"I saw the screaming headline on cable TV that there is malaise in the West Wing and I look forward to meeting her", quipped presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway.

Sanders later said his comment was misinterpreted.

Clinton questioned why Trump did not confront Putin over Russia's election interference.

She said Trump's "frightened fawning over Putin is an embarrassment and a grave threat to our democracy".

A White House spokeswoman, Lindsay Walters, wanted to make clear that the president "respects the independence of the Fed".

But that clarifying remark was washed away Friday when the president took to Twitter to press the Fed to change course. She highlighted economic sanctions put in place by the Trump administration that have hurt both the Russian economy and Putin's approval ratings.

Putin had his own walk-back. What happened to Hillary Clinton's emails? And he complained to some about what he viewed as an undercovered angle of the election controversy: "That the Democratic National Committee allowed its server to be hacked".



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