One word gets Donald Trump in trouble again
PRESIDENT Donald Trump has again contradicted US intelligence agencies, saying that Russia was not still targeting the United States, and accusing his critics of being deranged.
The day after he tried to quiet a political uproar over his failure to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin during their Helsinki summit for Moscow's 2016 election meddling, Mr Trump adopted his usual defiant posture and dismissed assessments of Russia from the intelligence community.
"We're doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. And there's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia," Mr Trump said before a Cabinet meeting at the White House, adding that Mr Putin "understands it and he's not happy about it."
Asked by reporters whether Russia was still targeting the United States, Mr Trump shook his head and said, "No."
At the start of a Cabinet meeting, a reporter asked, "Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?"
"Thank you very much. No," Mr Trump responded, shaking his head.
"No? You don't believe that to be the case?"
"No," Mr Trump repeated.
US intelligence officials have said Russian election interference efforts are continuing and now target the upcoming congressional elections in November.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters at a news briefing hours later that the president's "no" was not in answer to a reporter's question, "Is Russia still targeting the US?" Ms Sanders said Mr Trump meant he did not want to answer questions.
"The president ... was saying 'No' to answering questions," Ms Sanders said. "The president and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle in our elections as they have done in the past."
The self-named 'Trump derangement syndrome'
EARLIER: DONALD Trump fired off a series of wild tweets in a desperate attempt to defend himself from fierce criticism by the media and members of his own party over his behaviour with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
The US President even went so far as to name a syndrome after himself, apparently without realising the obvious irony.
The renowned "stable genius" said people's attacks on him should be named "Trump Derangement Syndrome", since they would clearly rather go to war than see him get on with Mr Putin.
Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
He accused people of simply hating the fact he was on friendly terms with Mr Putin at their summit in Finland on Monday, when he sensationally said he trusted Mr Putin over his own intelligence agencies.
After Mr Trump executed a stunning backflip 24 hours later, claiming he had simply misspoken and said the wrong word, his excuse was mocked as ridiculous.
So the President resorted to his favourite medium - Twitter - posting a barrage of tweets about his excellent results on the economy, job creation and trade deals.
He said "people at the higher ends of intelligence loved" his press conference with Mr Putin.
So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
The problems for Mr Trump began in Finland's capital when he showed deference to a man who has been repeatedly accused of war crimes, corruption and brutality.
Mr Trump told the world Mr Putin had been "strong and powerful in his denials" of Russian interference on the 2016 US elections, and insisted: "All I can do is ask the question."
The President also dramatically failed to hold Russia to account for its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the Novichok nerve agent attack in the UK.
His behaviour sparked an uproar, with senior Republicans, members of the intelligence community and even Barack Obama declaring themselves appalled by his performance.
....Russia has agreed to help with North Korea, where relationships with us are very good and the process is moving along. There is no rush, the sanctions remain! Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
The President first responded by slamming the "Fake News Media" and tried to turn the attention back to the economy and the money "he raised" at the NATO meeting, where his attitude to overseas allies was also blasted.
"In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'," he explained.
He said the sentence should have been, "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia," rather than, "I don't see any reason why it would be Russia."
It was a stunning backflip that has only made the public outpouring anger even worse.
But Mr Trump is known for weathering a storm, and even Trump Derangement Syndrome may not be able to bring him down.
While the NATO meeting in Brussels was an acknowledged triumph, with billions of dollars more being put up by member countries at a faster pace, the meeting with Russia may prove to be, in the long run, an even greater success. Many positive things will come out of that meeting..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018