In an attempt to clean up the enormous mess he made during his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, President Donald Trump insisted in carefully prepared comments to reporters in the White House Cabinet Room on Tuesday that he misspoke when he accepted Putin's denials of election meddling and urged reporters to fix the transcript of his remarks.
"We're not fooled—and neither are the American people."
"I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.' And the sentence should have been—and I thought I would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video," Trump said. "The sentence should've been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double-negative. So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself."
Trump claimed that he had no idea why his comments in Helsinki prompted so much outrage until he read the transcript of the press conference, during which he called Putin's denials of election interference "strong and powerful."
President Trump: "In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'…the sentence should have been, 'I don't any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double-negative." pic.twitter.com/wFob1xfzp2
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 17, 2018
Advocacy groups were quick to call Trump's rapid reversal into question, arguing that it fits with a pattern of responding to outrage that Trump has followed throughout his presidency.
"Trump has a pattern: Say or do something horrific, dutifully read a statement his staff wrote for him the next day, then double down later on his original statement," the advocacy group Indivisible wrote on Twitter. "We're not fooled—and neither are the American people."