Offering no evidence, Trump says Russia will back Democrats in election

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump walks up the driveway prior to delivering remarks at a showcase of American-made products at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he believes Russia will work hard to sway November U.S. congressional elections toward Democrats and not his fellow Republicans, but provided no evidence to back up his assertion.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election with a campaign of propaganda and hacking to disparage Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and aid Trump’s candidacy, and that Moscow is now targeting the Nov. 6 congressional races.

“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!” the Republican president wrote on Twitter.

Putin himself acknowledged he wanted Trump to win the 2016 presidential race during a joint news conference with Trump after their July 16 summit in Helsinki. Putin denied meddling in the election.

Trump’s summit performance drew a fierce backlash in the United States after he shied away from blaming the Russian leader for the election interference. Critics accused Trump of siding with Russia over his own country by failing to so.

Democrats are seeking to take control of the House of Representatives and Senate in the November elections from the Republicans. Wresting control of either or both chambers could allow Democrats to derail or stall much of Trump’s policy agenda, while ushering in more aggressive congressional oversight and investigation of his administration.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Ahmann; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Will Dunham