'The Consequential Moment Was Yesterday’: CNN National Security Reporter Rips Trump’s ‘Preposterous’ About-Face on Russian Meddling

CNN’s Jim Scuitto on Tuesday refused to lend credence to Donald Trump’s claim that he misspoke when he said there’s “no reason to believe” Russia would have meddled in the 2016 presidential election, calling Trump’s excuse “preposterous.”


Following bipartisan condemnation over his performance Monday at a joint presser with  Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump on Tuesday insisted he used the wrong word when he declined, several times, to call out Russia for election meddling. Speaking with pool reporters, Trump insisted he meant to say he believes the intelligence community’s assessment that Putin sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of ‘wouldn’t,’” Trump said Tuesday. “The sentence should've been: 'I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”

National security strategist Jeffrey Edmonds called Trump’s assertion “incoherent,” adding Trump claimed to believe the intelligence community during his press conference with Putin.

“It’s not just incoherent,” Scuitto declared. “He didn't say that yesterday. He didn't say that. He said the opposite. He made the clearest statement possible he doesn't have faith in his intelligence agencies. He stood next to the man who orchestrated the interference and doubted those agency's confident assessment that that interference took place and, in fact, was orchestrated by the man standing next to him.”

Dana Bash said the administration is trying to do “damage control.” Asked if the president’s remarks were enough, Scuitto went off.

“The more important time, the more consequential time, the more courageous time to express that confidence in U.S. intelligence community is when you're standing on the world stage, next to the leader of the foreign power,” Scuitto said. “Whatever damage control the president or his team thinks they're accomplishing, the consequential moment was yesterday, or in fact the previous week when he was meeting with U.S. allies who are concerned about the Russia threat and was singling out U.S allies as somehow a threat to the U.S. That was the consequential time, so it’s a difficult hole to dig yourself out of.”

Scuitto went on to call Trump’s excuse “preposterous,” noting Trump spoke at length about the DNC server, and offered additional talking points designed to diminish the veracity of the intelligence community’s assessment during the press conference.

“Were there missing contractions in those sentences?” Scuitto asked.

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