WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House denied that U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Russia was no longer targeting the United States, saying his answer “no” was about taking questions not about potential interference in U.S. elections.
Asked by reporters before a Cabinet meeting whether Moscow was still targeting the United States, Trump shook his head and said, “No.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters at a news briefing hours later that the president’s “no” was not in answer to a reporter’s question, “Is Russia still targeting the U.S.?” Sanders said Trump meant he did not want to answer questions.
“The president ... was saying ‘No’ to answering questions,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at a news briefing later. “The president and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle in our elections as they have done in the past.”
Sanders said Trump and Putin made clear that they discussed election meddling.
Pressed on whether Trump warned Putin against interference, Sanders said, “The president has made clear to Vladimir Putin that he should stay out of U.S. elections.”
U.S. intelligence officials have said Russian election interference efforts are continuing and now target the upcoming congressional elections in November.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Mohammad Zargham, Doina Chiacu; Editing by Tim Ahmann