By Miriam Raftery
November 11, 2017 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One that Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied meddling in the U.S. election-and that Trump believes Putin, The Hill reports. But now Putin’s aide has denied any such conversation took place – and the head of the C.I.A. says Russia definitely did meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
The President spoke with Putin privately during an economics summit of Asia-Pacific world leaders in Vietnam. Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he previously asked Putin about Russian involvement in the election, then added, “I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election, he did not do what they are saying he did.”
Trump added, “I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.”
But today, when asked if Putin discussed election meddling with Trump, Putin’s press secretary Dmitri Peskov told CNN flatly, when asked, “as far as you know, did the two leaders discuss meddling?"
The CIA has issued a statement refuting the veracity of Trump’s contention that Russia didn’t meddle in the election. CNN’s Jake Tapper posted the CIA statement on Twitter. It reads, “The Director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections. The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.”
That January assessment concluded that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election that put Trump in the White House.
Meanwhile the probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the election has broadened to include at least one member of Congress, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-California) over his pro-Russian stances and a meeting with Trump’s former national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, The Hill reports. Flynn is widely expected by Washington insiders to be next in Mueller’s crosshairs for likely indictment, along with Flynn’s son.
The Flynns are under investigation for a deal in which Flynn was to be paid millions of dollars by the Turkish government for the extradition of a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. Flynn failed to register as a foreign lobbyist, an apparent violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Mueller’s investigation has led to arrests and multiple serious felony charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign official Rick. Those charges include conspiring against the United States with regard to Manafort’s representation, among other things, of a former Ukrainian president and Putin protégé.
George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pled guilty to charges including lying to federal prosecutors regarding the Russia probe, court documents indicated.
Another two dozen sealed cases have been filed in the D.C. federal court where Mueller brought his indictments, since the indictment against Manafort on October 27th, though it’s not yet known how many of the new, secret indictments are part of the Mueller probe. But LawNewz concludes, “…there are reports that FBI agents have gathered enough evidence to charge former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and more indictments are forthcoming.”