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Reporter who asked Trump if Russia was targeting US: He was answering me when he said 'no'

The Hill logo The Hill 7/18/2018 Max Greenwood
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill

The reporter who asked President Trump whether Russia is still seeking to meddle in U.S. elections asserted on Wednesday that the president was answering her directly when he said that it was not.

"Yes, he was looking directly at me when he spoke. Yes, I believe he heard me clearly. He answered two of my questions," Cecilia Vega, a White House correspondent for ABC News, wrote on Twitter, posting a transcript of the exchange.

The tweet came after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was not answering Vega's question, but rather "saying 'no' to answering questions."

"He does believe that they would target, certainly, [the] U.S. election," Sanders said.

Trump's comment seemed to dismiss the U.S. intelligence community's warning that Moscow was seeking to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections, just as it did in the 2016 presidential election.

The remark raised questions once again about the president's stance on Russian meddling in U.S. politics after he challenged the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During that news conference, he acknowledged that top intelligence officials had told him that Russia took steps to meddle in the 2016 race. But Trump also pointed out that Putin had denied that the Russian government took such actions, and said he did not see any reason why Moscow would meddle in U.S. elections.

He reversed course on Tuesday amid intense pressure from conservatives and political allies, insisting that he misspoke and meant to say that he did not see any reason why Russia "wouldn't" meddle in American elections.

"The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia,' " Trump said. "Sort of a double negative."

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