President Donald Trump says he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin believes it when he says Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. But Trump says he also believes US intelligence agencies, which have concluded that Russia did meddle in the election. "I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election," Trump said of Putin at news conference with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi, the AP reports. "As to whether I believe it, I'm with our agencies." "As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies," he added. The US intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the election to help the Republican defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The comments came after Trump earlier said that Putin again vehemently denied the allegations—this time during an economic summit in Vietnam. Trump said he believed "that when he tells me that, he means it." Trump had also dismissed former US intelligence officials as "political hacks" and accused Democrats of using the issue to try to sabotage relations between the two countries, putting lives at risk. In a tweet sent Sunday from Hanoi, Trump bashed the "haters and fools" he said are questioning his efforts to improve relations with Russia and accused critics of "playing politics" and hurting the country. Trump's comments about Putin and "political hacks" brought criticism from lawmakers with ties to the intelligence community.
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