His summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki may have ended on Monday, but U.S. President Donald Trump has since been dogged by questions on whether he believes Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election — mainly due to his own shifting answers.
Asked at the summit if he believed the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow interfered with the vote, Trump said: "I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia]… but I have confidence in both parties."
This was three days after special counsel Robert Mueller's probe indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking offences related to the election.
Trump also said U.S. treatment of Russia had been "foolish" before he came into office, and that he held "both countries responsible" for declining relations.
Trump has since offered differing answers to the same question.
Watch: Donald Trump news conference with Vladimir Putin
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak to reporters following their meeting in Helsinki on Monday. 45:50
After his private meeting with Putin, Trump said at the news conference:
"My people came to me — [U.S. Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others — and they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin — he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be… but I have confidence in both parties. "
Later, Trump tweeted that he has "great confidence" in U.S. intelligence agencies but stressed the need to build strong relations between the nuclear powers.
Reaction to his comments were swift and critical — even among his Republican Party.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, called his comments "bizarre and flat-out wrong"; Arizona's Jeff Flake deemed them "shameful"; and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said they will be perceived as "a sign of weakness."
The day after, Trump was back in Washington and said he does accept the intelligence community's conclusion, but added: "It could be other people also — there's a lot of people out there."
Trump also said he misspoke in Helsinki.
"The sentence should have been: 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia,'" he said. He added his administration will take "strong action" to secure the country's election process. He reiterated there had been no collusion between his campaign and Moscow, an allegation that has dogged his presidency from the start.
Watch: Trump tries to clarify his remarks in Helsinki
'I said the word would instead of wouldn't,' he says regarding Russian interference in 2016 U.S. election. 4:37
The issue bubbled up again Wednesday, when Trump was asked by a reporter if Russia was still trying to meddle in U.S. elections, particularly the upcoming midterms.
Trump appeared to answer, "No."
However, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said later that day that his remark was misunderstood, and that he was saying "no" to answering further questions from reporters.
Cecilia Vega, the ABC News reporter who asked the question, said on Twitter that she believes the president heard her clearly and that Trump was looking directly at her when he spoke.
Watch: Trump denies Russia still targeting U.S.
Reporter asks question at end of White House media scrum 0:15
In an interview with CBS Evening News, which was released in part on Wednesday evening, Trump was asked whether he holds Putin personally responsible for the meddling in 2016.
"Well I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So, certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes," Trump said.
The president was asked what he said to Putin, and he replied that he was "very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling."
But election meddling wasn't the only issue to come out of the summit. There was also Putin's controversial suggestion that the U.S. could sit in on the questioning of the 12 indicted Russians — but only if the U.S. would allow Russia to question Americans whom the Kremlin has accused of committing "illegal activities."
Trump said he would consider Putin's "incredible" offer. The State Department, however, later called it "absolutely absurd."
On Thursday, as the president tried to move on to domestic economic issues, the Russia question was still drawing headlines around the world.
The U.S. Senate rebuked the president for not outright rejecting the proposal, overwhelmingly passing a non-binding resolution against allowing Russia to question U.S. officials.
Trump eventually rejected the idea, with Sanders saying Trump "disagrees with it."
But more news came later that day when Sanders said Trump had directed National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to Washington for the fall.
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