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"I'm not pro-Russian": Trump admits interference in US election

After criticism after the meeting with Russian President Putin, US President Trump made a substantive turnaround: He accepted information about Russian interference in the US election campaign in 2016. Moscow is demanding evidence.

After severe criticism of his stance at the summit with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump admitted that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election. According to the TV broadcaster Fox News and other media, Trump said he accepted appropriate US intelligence information in the White House in Washington on Tuesday. Still, Trump couldn't help but reiterate that "other people" could also be responsible.

Trump had said in Helsinki the day before that there were "two sides" to Russian interference in the election; Putin's denial of such interference was also "strong and powerful". Well, on Tuesday, Trump said he had put it wrong: he "made a mistake" in Helsinki.

"I'm not pro-Russian, I'm for no one," Trump said on Tuesday in an interview with Fox News. "I just want the country (US) to be safe." The US and Russia controlled 90 percent of all nuclear weapons, Trump said. So getting along with Russia is a good thing and not a bad thing. When asked if he sees Russia as the United States' greatest adversary, he said, "I wouldn't even use the word adversary. We can all work together." Everyone could be fine and everyone could live in peace.

Trump recalled Russia's role during World War II: "Russia lost 50 million people and helped us win the war." The US President is under criticism for his remarks during a press conference with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

"Facts on the table"

After Trump's statement, Moscow is now demanding clear evidence of alleged interference. "Our main demand is: facts on the table," said the Russian ambassador to the USA, Anatoly Antonov, in Moscow on Wednesday. The claims are simply nonsense. There is no clear evidence to back it up, he said, according to the Interfax agency. The Kremlin did not initially comment.

After the meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Trump came under a wave of criticism from the Democrats - but politicians in his Republican Party also sharply condemned Trump's statements of doubt about the US intelligence services.

In Helsinki he had just "made a mistake", Trump said in the White House: "My people had come to me and a few others. They said they believe it was Russia," Trump said in Helsinki - standing next to Putin . Referring to him, the US President said: "He just said it wasn't Russia. I'll say once, I see no reason why it should have been [Russia]." He revised this statement on Tuesday: he actually wanted to say that he saw no reason why it should not have been Russia.

The minutes and a recording of his answer had drawn his attention to the fact that he had to "clarify" his statement. "I've said that many times," said Trump, "I accept our intelligence services' conclusion that Russia's interference in the 2016 election took place. It could be other people, too. A lot of people out there."

In Washington, too, Trump stuck to his statement that the summit with Putin was "our most successful visit" on our trip to Europe last week.

Republicans threaten sanctions

The meeting of the two presidents, however, had called a large number of Republican politicians on the scene. They all sharply criticized Trump for his statements in Helsinki. Some of them had missed a clear warning from Trump to Putin about possible new attempts at electoral interference.

Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, did not want to criticize Trump's Helsinki appearance on Tuesday. He noted, however, that there was "a broad understanding" between Republicans and Democrats regarding the danger posed by Russia. He also held out the prospect of further sanctions if Russia attempted to interfere in a future election - also with regard to the upcoming midterm elections in the autumn. "The Russians need to know that there are many of us who fully understand what happened in 2016 and it is better not to happen again in 2018," McConnell said.

(Reuters / Red.)