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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said his Thursday comments at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado were not meant to be critical of Mr. Trump's decision to invite Mr. Putin to a meeting in Washington later this year.

The protests started Monday when protesters described their actions as "greeting" Trump on his return from Helsinki, where he met with Vladimir Putin behind closed doors.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the findings of US intelligence agencies that released a report in January 2017 saying they concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a hacking-and-propaganda campaign targeting the election.

The findings indicate that while Trump was judged critically for his summit performance, the event has not at this time proved to be a significant turning point in his presidency, despite the sharp criticism he received in the hours and days after the meeting and the multiple efforts by White House officials and the president to clarify his remarks in Helsinki.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Helsinki this week, and some feel the American President took some hits.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia
Image Courtesy Wikipedia

Trump wrote that his predecessor, Barack Obama, knew about allegations of Russian meddling before the November 2016 vote. When asked by a reporter whether he believed the Russians meddled in the election, he said, "I don't see why it would be", which he later retracted and said he meant, "I don't see why it wouldn't be". Instead, he directed his ire at Democrats and USA officials, calling special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference a "disaster" and a "witch hunt".

Confusion followed after his return to the United States, where he has since said that he misspoke at a joint news conference in Helsinki with Mr Putin and does hold the Russian leader personally responsible. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, did not shy away from criticizing Trump's comments in Helsinki. "I think he's said it about 1,000 times".

Toomey also aggressively attacked Putin, calling him a "bad actor" who should be treated as an global pariah.

Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who helped conduct the NBC/WSJ poll, pointed to media coverage of Trump for the strong support he's seeing among Republican voters. A smaller 58 percent majority of conservatives approve of Trump's conduct at the summit.

As Trump flip flops between agreeing that there was Russian interference in elections and saying that it's untrue, the White House scrambles to explain.


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