Despite proclaiming on Tuesday that he has "full faith" in the US intelligence community, President Trump on Wednesday seemed to assert an opinion that is in disagreement with that community. Asked by a reporter ahead of a Cabinet meeting whether Russia is still "targeting" the US, Trump responded "thank you very much, no," ABC News reports. Media outlets including Newser were quick to report on the exchange, which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders subsequently said had been misreported. "The president said thank you very much and was saying 'no' to answering questions," she said. Confusion may have been introduced in that the answer came directly after the targeting question, and Politico reports that after saying "no," Trump continued speaking about Russia to reporters in a "brief monologue."
In those comments, he reiterated that no president had been tougher than him on Russia. "I think President Putin knows that better than anybody, certainly a lot better than the media." Sanders did specify that she had spoken with Trump, and said, "I'm interpreting what the president said. I'm not reversing it." Trump's director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, had warned about potential Russia attacks on the US' digital infrastructure Friday, CNBC reports, and he said in a statement Monday, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy." Coats also said last month that Russia was targeting the US in ways that could affect the midterm elections, Politico reports.