President Trump said Wednesday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is ultimately responsible for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, and that he warned Mr. Putin “we can’t have this” meddling in the future.
“Certainly, as the leader of a country, you would have to hold him responsible, yes,” Mr. Trump told CBS News’ Jeff Glor in an interview. “I let him know we can’t have this, we’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Mr. Trump has been criticized by people in both parties for not confronting Mr. Putin publicly about the election cyber attacks during their joint press conference Monday in Finland. The president said he confronted the Russian leader privately, but disagrees with people who wanted him to start “screaming in his face” at the press conference.
“We’re living in the real world. I don’t know what the fuss is all about,” Mr. Trump said.
He reiterated that he believes the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere in the election.
“I would say that is true,” Mr. Trump said of the meddling. “I think we have excellent people in the agencies. I have tremendous faith in [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats.”
Asked if the intelligence agencies were “out to get” him, Mr. Trump replied, “Certainly in the past it’s been terrible. You look at [former CIA director John] Brennan, you look at [former DNI James] Clapper, you look at [former National Security Agency director Michael] Hayden, you look at [former FBI director James] Comey, you look at [former FBI deputy director Andrew] McCabe, you look at [FBI agents Peter] Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page… certainly I can’t have any confidence in the past, but I can have a lot of confidence in the present and the future. It’s getting to be now where we’re putting our people in.”
He added, “But in the past, no. I have no confidence in a guy like Brennan, I think he’s a total low-life. You take a look at all the shenanigans that have gone on. It’s very hard to have confidence in that group.”
Mr. Brennan accused the president of virtually committing treason this week after his meeting with Mr. Putin.