Let’s Be Clear: The White House Week of Walk-Backs - NBC New York
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

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Let’s Be Clear: The White House Week of Walk-Backs

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin both made claims this week that they later walked back on

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Did Trump Deny Russia Is Still Targeting US? New Dispute Over ‘No’

    Asked at the White House if Russia is still targeting the United States, President Donald Trump appeared to say “no.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later that Trump was saying “no” to answering questions. (Published Wednesday, July 18, 2018)

    What to Know

    • President Donald Trump has faced criticism in his week of walk-backs following his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin

    • Trump seemed to side with Russia, saying he didn't see a reason why it would meddle in the election. He later said he misspoke

    • In addition to the election, the two leaders also talked about the Russian indictments and Ukraine, and Trump invited Putin to Washington

    This was the week when “would” turned into “wouldn’t” and “no” meant “yes,” as President Donald Trump and his top aides tried to walk back several of his comments on Russia and the Federal Reserve.

    At one point, the rhetorical zigzags left one senator lamenting a “walk-back of the walk-back” that was, she said, “dizzying.”

    A look at a week of walk-backs:

    'Would' vs. 'wouldn't'
    Trump was asked at the end of Monday’s summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Who do you believe” — U.S. intelligence, which accuses Russia of election meddling, or Putin, who denies it?

    16 States Sue Trump Over Emergency Declaration

    [NATL] 16 States Sue Trump Over Emergency Declaration

    California, New York, Maryland and 13 other states have filed lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump's emergency declaration. The declaration bypasses Congress, allowing Trump to use military funds to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico. 

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019)

    With Putin at his side, Trump said of American intelligence officials: “They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this — I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

    Facing intense blowback for siding with Russia, Trump dug in and tweeted that “Fake News” was to blame for mischaracterizing the summit.

    It wasn’t until more than 24 hours after the press conference that Trump took back his initial remarks, blaming a grammatical glitch as he read from a prepared statement: “The sentence should have been: I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia. Sort of a double negative.”

    This “clarification” didn’t address other remarks in which Trump criticized the U.S. as “foolish” for its approach to Russia and said “I have confidence in both parties.”

    Trump also injected some uncertainty into his walk-back by tacking a qualifier on to his statement that he accepts the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian meddling in the 2016 election took place. He added: “Could be other people also; there’s a lot of people out there.”

    ‘Incredible' turns regrettable
    During the same press conference, Trump praised Putin’s “incredible offer” of a deal to swap interrogations.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Universal Child Care Plan

    [NATL] Sen. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Universal Child Care Plan

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was in Glendale, California, Monday to unveil her plan for universal child care.

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019)

    Putin pitched the idea that the U.S. could question the 12 Russian military officials indicted for hacking into the Democratic presidential campaign. In exchange, he said, Russian authorities could interview several Americans the Kremlin accuses of unspecified crimes.

    “I think that’s an incredible offer. OK?” Trump said. The idea landed with a thud among officials back in the U.S.

    By Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a clarifying statement: “It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it.”

    “Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt,” she added.

    No means yes?
    There was more verbal drama at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, when Trump was asked by a reporter if Russia was still targeting the U.S.

    (The U.S. national intelligence director had recently warned that the nation’s “warning lights are blinking red” because countries like Russia and China are trying to attack U.S. digital infrastructure.)

    Sanders Back on Campaign Trail With 2020 Presidential Run

    [NATL] Sanders Back on Campaign Trail With 2020 Presidential Run

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced Tuesday in a radio interview that he will is again running for president, vying for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019)

    “Thank you very much, no,” Trump said.

    The reporter asked again, and Trump said “no” again.

    “But can you just clarify, you don’t believe that to be the case?” the reporter asked a third time.

    Another reporter shouts a question, and Trump says “thank you very much everybody.” But then he appears to change his mind, telling reporters “we’re doing very well” and that “there’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.”

    Sanders later said his comment was misinterpreted. She said Trump was saying “no” to answering additional questions — although that didn’t appear to be the case because he elaborated on Russia.

    “The president is wrong,” GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said of Trump’s one-word response. Told that Sanders had since clarified, she responded: “There’s a walk-back of the walk-back of the walk-back of the walk-back? This is dizzying.”

    Sen. Rubio on National Emergency Declaration: ‘I Think it’s a Bad Idea’

    [NATL] Sen. Rubio on National Emergency Declaration: ‘I Think it’s a Bad Idea’

    Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio weighs in on the president’s decision to declare a national emergency that may divert funding from other military construction projects.

    (Published Monday, Feb. 18, 2019)

    Respectful criticism?
    On Thursday, Trump said he was “not happy” that the Federal Reserve was raising interest rates, breaking with long-standing tradition at the White House of avoiding any influence on the U.S. central bank.

    A White House spokeswoman, Lindsay Walters, wanted to make clear that the president “respects the independence of the Fed.”

    “The president’s views on interest rates are well-known, and his comments today are a reiteration of those long held positions, and public comments,” Walters said in a statement.

    But that clarifying remark was washed away Friday when the president took to Twitter to press the Fed to change course.

    “The United States should not be penalized because we are doing so well. Tightening now hurts all that we have done,” Trump tweeted.

    Putin's walk-back
    Putin had his own walk-back. During the Monday press conference, he alleged that Bill Browder, an investor and Putin critic accused of financial crimes in Russia, contributed $400 million to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

    Trump Supporter Storms Media Pen at Texas Rally

    [NATL] Trump Supporter Storms Media Pen at Texas Rally

    A Trump supporter stormed the media pen and attacked a BBC cameraman during Trump's first rally for 2019 in El Paso, Texas, shortly after the president criticized the media.

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019)

    The notion of a $400 million donation to the Democrat’s campaign would be out of the question. On Tuesday, the Russian general prosecutor’s office said to little fanfare that Putin misspoke and meant $400,000.