U.S. intelligence chief says no disrespect intended toward Trump

But another USA official called those accusations unfair and said Coats would never try to undercut or embarrass the president.

In Washington, D.C., the bipartisan response to Trump's handling of the Putin summit was fiercely critical.

Trump stunned observers when, during a press conference after the Helsinki summit, he refused to denounce Putin, declined to hold Russian Federation accountable for its interference in the 2016 election, and suggested the Federal Bureau of Investigation was part of a conspiracy to underine his election victory.

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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. The State Department, by contrast, rejected the proposal - which Trump days earlier had called an "incredible offer - as "absurd".

The director of national intelligence said to the interviewer "say that again" and laughed, as he cupped his hand over his ear on live television.

"The sentence should have been: I don't see any reason why I wouldn't - or why it wouldn't be Russian Federation", the president said Tuesday before a meeting with Republican members of Congress.

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Later, Trump tweeted that he has "great confidence" in USA intelligence agencies but stressed the need to build strong relations between the nuclear powers. He walked back that statement a day later, saying he'd meant to say he didn't see why Russian Federation wouldn't be involved. "The Kremlin intelligence agents know exactly what took place in that meeting".

"What I think is indisputable is that they did interfere and they will do so in the future", Rubio said on CNN's "State of the Union".

The week only worse for the president, his staff, and his party after that, though it's still not clear Trump understands why, just like it's not clear how he could have possibly expected to avoid such an inevitable line of questioning in Helsinki, something his beleaguered aides surely tried to prepare him for ahead of time. Trump appeared to answer "no" to a reporter's question asking whether Russian Federation was still targeting the U.S. While hours later, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders emerged to say Trump had merely tried to put a stop to the questioning by saying "no", although he continued discussing Russian Federation after that.

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Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats sought to clarify remarks he made at a security conference here that infuriated President Trump and raised the possibility that the nation's top intelligence official could be fired. Coats says his comments at event were not meant to be critical of the president's handling of the Helsinki summit.

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