In an instantly controversial new comment on Russia, President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to deny the longtime USA foe was still targeting American elections, a claim sharply at odds with recent public warnings from his top intelligence chief.
He said his administration will do everything it can to thwart any Russian efforts to interfere with November's USA congressional elections.
"So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki", Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
"Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting", Trump tweeted, apparently referring to the one-on-one talks he and Putin held with only translators present at the start of the one-day summit on July 16.
He added: "We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match".
Taking to Twitter today, President Trump defended anew his much-criticized performance at the Helsinki summit, promising "big results" from better relations with Russian Federation and hitting back at 'haters'.
"Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!" he wrote.
"There is no rush, the sanctions remain!"
He has since walked back his remarks, but initially he seemed eager to accept Putin's denial of Russian interference in the 2016 American election over the USA intelligence conclusion.
"That must be the intelligence agencies", Trump joked, to chuckles from the Republican lawmakers he was meeting with.
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to North Korea, Aleksandr Matsegora, told state-run news agency RIA Novosti in an interview published on July 18 that a summit between Putin and North Korea's Kim was "on the agenda".
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She referred to Jarrett as looking like the "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby". She added that her tweets "didn't mean what they think I meant ..." 'I've lost everything.
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At one point, the lights in the White House room went out as Trump attempted to clarify his remarks.
The emergence of Mr. Coats, said a former C.I.A. official, should be a signal for Mr. Trump of what the administration position on Russian interference should be.
Trump hailed last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Europe as victory for his tough stance of demanding the United States' European allies make big new defence spending pledges.
Then, on Wednesday, Trump was asked during a Cabinet meeting if Russian Federation was still targeting the USA, and he answered "no" without elaborating.
Lawmakers from both parties have been sounding the alarm over fresh interference by Russian Federation as they push to fortify US election infrastructure ahead of the midterm elections.
Putin aides have voiced frustration too that their attempts to fix U.S-Russia relations were being blocked by Trump's opponents in the United States.
But he refused to reverse other comments in which he backed Putin's "extremely strong and powerful" denial of Russian involvement. The expanded session also took about two hours.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump was trying to "squirm away" from his comments alongside Putin.
"This has to be recognized for what it is, which is simply an effort to clean up the mess he made yesterday, which is beyond the capacity of any short statement to fix", said Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives.
Democrats are demanding action to rein in Trump and counter Russia, from congressional hearings on the Helsinki summit to increased sanctions against Russia to legislation protecting the special counsel in the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller.