The president campaigned on closer ties with Russian Federation, a goal that had been thwarted during his first year in office.
By Tuesday, after congressional blowback and criticism from outside advisors, Trump reversed himself and said he meant to say that he didn't see any reason why Russian Federation wouldn't - as opposed to would - intervene in the elections.
That might sound like hyperbole, but in this case, there's actually some basis for the president's boast.
The Washington Post reported that Trump went on about how Putin is "strong, smart, and cunning", and said he "relished" his interactions with the Russian strongman. For years, the Obama administration had a bad Syria policy, but at least President Barack Obama had some skin in the game and gave some protection and comfort to the innocent Syrian civilians who the United States was supposed to be looking out for.
The Trump administration generally seems to accept that meddling occurred, but the president has questioned whether it was exclusively Russian Federation that carried it out. Trump didn't realize he would face such challenges, apparently, and wanted to know why Lemire had been called on instead of a reporter who would ask him an easier question.
"The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the President and policymakers", said Coats, the top USA intelligence official. "And then in a public conversation disavow his own intelligence agencies and in many respects disavow his own country".
In turn, national security experts said, Putin played Trump like a fiddle. "Russians will always have a cost advantage". "The fake news, they want to make it like where there's like a big confrontation".
As far back as 2007, Trump told Larry King on CNN, "Look at Putin - what he's doing with Russia ... whether you like him or don't like him - he's doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia, period".
Russian Federation annexed the peninsula of Crimea in 2014.
Trump also congratulated Putin on his suspect re-election victory, despite explicit instructions from his advisers.
The president, and the administration at large, he said, needs to "think in terms of legacy, not news cycles".
Congressional lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump for his performance with Putin, especially in light of a criminal investigation into Russian hacking of Democrats during the 2016 campaign. "He says he misspoke when he was standing there with President Putin", Palatucci said. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Coats explained of his reasoning and his relations with Trump: 'We started a good relationship.
He also reiterated denials of Russian involvement in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.
"And Germany did three", he added grimly.
One question that seemed natural following the week was whose advice, if anyone's, was Trump taking in handling this episode.
However grudging Trump's moves against Moscow might have been, though, his defenders say the actions speak for themselves.
"If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way", Coats said.
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Nobody paid much attention - probably because, in the same set of remarks, Trump was also trying to spin his remarks from his post-meeting news conference with Putin, where he failed to side with US intelligence agencies regarding their assessment of Russia's election interference.