Politics

The Corrections

President Trump says he misspoke in Helsinki about Russia’s election interference. What a joke.

Trump’s hands hold typed notes with Sharpie'd scribbles on them.
President Donald Trump looks at his notes as he talks about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday at the White House.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, July 17—President Trump today walked back comments he made in Helsinki on Monday at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the press conference, Mr. Trump was asked whether Russia was guilty of interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as alleged in a federal indictment issued last week. He replied, “I don’t see any reason why it would be.” Today, however, Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House: “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good.”

WASHINGTON, July 18—President Trump has issued a second correction to comments he previously made about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Last July, after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Trump told Reuters that during the meeting, Mr. Putin had denied interfering in the election. In the Reuters interview, Mr. Trump, paraphrasing an idea he had heard elsewhere, suggested: “If he [Putin] did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it.” But in remarks before a Cabinet meeting today, Mr. Trump explained that he had meant to say “would,” not “wouldn’t.” “So that thing yesterday where I said ‘would,’ I meant ‘wouldn’t.’ And the thing last year where I said ‘wouldn’t,’ I meant ‘would.’ So that’s pretty clear.”

WASHINGTON, July 19—The White House has corrected a third statement previously made by President Trump about Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The statement occurred during a Fox News interview on Dec. 11, 2016, two days after the Washington Post reported that the CIA, in briefings to lawmakers, had concluded that Russia intervened in the election to help Mr. Trump. In the Dec. 11 interview, Mr. Trump called the reported conclusion “ridiculous,” saying, “I don’t believe it. … No, I don’t believe that at all.” But in a gaggle with reporters this morning, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah explained that Mr. Trump had meant to say “do,” not “don’t.” “That’s in both sentences,” said Mr. Shah. “His words should read, ‘I do believe it,’ and ‘Yes, I do believe that, all of it.’ ”

WASHINGTON, July 20—The White House has released an addendum to yesterday’s correction of President Trump’s comments about Russian interference in the 2016 election. In addition to the answer Mr. Trump gave in a Fox News interview on Dec. 11, 2016, which the White House corrected yesterday, Mr. Trump also misspoke on Nov. 28, 2016, when he told Time magazine, referring to the Russians, “I don’t believe they interfered.” At a briefing this afternoon, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters that Mr. Trump “meant to say ‘do,’ not ‘don’t.’ So this is the same clarification we issued yesterday, but for a different interview. I think this makes the president’s position quite clear.”

WASHINGTON, July 21—Speaking to reporters this morning before boarding Marine One, President Trump sought to clarify another of his past comments on Russia and the 2016 presidential election. The comment arose from a technical report by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, published on Dec. 29, 2016, which detailed forensic evidence of Russian cyberintrusions in the election. At the time, Mr. Trump rejected the report’s findings, saying, “I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else.” But this morning, Mr. Trump said he had misspoken. “Just so you understand, I said ‘could,’ but I meant ‘couldn’t,’ OK? So that other time, I said ‘would’ when I meant ‘wouldn’t.’ And then I said ‘wouldn’t’ when I meant ‘would.’ And on this one, I was trying to say ‘couldn’t,’ but I meant ‘could.’ And I mean that. Very strongly.”

PALM BEACH, Florida, July 22—President Trump interrupted a golf outing today to address, for the sixth time this week, remarks he said he had made in error about Russia’s conduct during the 2016 presidential campaign. The remarks pertained to an Oct. 7, 2016, statement by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which implicated senior Russian officials in a cyberespionage operation designed to influence the election. In a presidential debate two days after the statement, Mr. Trump said: “Any time anything wrong happens, they like to say ‘the Russians, the Russians.’ She [Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] doesn’t know it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.” A week later, in a second debate, Mr. Trump added that, as to who was behind the operation, “Our country has no idea.”

This afternoon, Mr. Trump told reporters he had mixed up his words in the first debate. “I said ‘doesn’t,’ but I meant ‘does,’ ” he said. As to his comment in the second debate, he said it had been misreported. “I said ID. Identification,” Mr. Trump asserted, explaining that he had been talking about voter fraud. “Our country has no ID.”

WASHINGTON, July 23—The White House is revising another quote previously attributed to President Trump about Russian interference in the 2016 election. The comment, made to reporters aboard Air Force One on Nov. 11, 2017, took place two weeks after Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was indicted on multiple felonies in the Russia investigation, and one month after Mr. Trump’s former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. During the Nov. 11 conversation, Mr. Trump insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin “really means it” when Mr. Putin denied knowledge of Russian interference in the election. Mr. Trump assured the traveling press corps:

He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. … And you look at what’s going on with the server from the DNC, and why didn’t the FBI take it … If you look at all of this stuff, and you say, ‘What’s going on here?’ And then you hear it’s 17 agencies [that concluded Russia meddled in the election]. Well, it’s three. And one is [former CIA Director John] Brennan, and one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They’re political hacks.

At today’s White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president had misspoken. “What he meant to say was, ‘Make America Great Again,’” Ms. Sanders told reporters. “He has always supported the men and women of our intelligence community. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t question that.”

“Would,” Ms. Sanders added. “I meant ‘would.’ ”