(Reuters, restricted pool, CBS News, Twitter) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday saying that in his closely-watched meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin over the weekend the two discussed measures to protect their countries from political cyber-attacks.
In a tweet Trump writing, ‘Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking & many other negative things will be guarded and secure.’
That message catching many off-guard, because U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that it was Russia, under direct instruction from Putin, deliberately hacked into U.S. political parties’ computers and released information in a sustained effort to sway the 2016 presidential election toward Trump.
As Republican Senator Marco Rubio put it in response to the President; ‘partnering with Putin on a Cyber Security Unit is akin to partnering with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a Chemical Weapons Unit.’
That might not be a perfectly-constructed analogy, but the sentiment from critics was clear: Trump’s tweet sounds like the president hopes to work with a fox to better guard the henhouse.
The president has repeatedly dismissed and questioned the veracity of claims that Russia interfered in the election; claims that appear to undercut the legitimacy of his electoral victory.
‘Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.’
And UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told CBS News the president believes reports about Russian interference.
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN NIKKI HALEY,
‘President Trump still knows that they meddled. President Putin knows that they meddled, but he is never going to admit it.’
But Russia’s foreign ministry stating the opposite: That Trump accepted Putin’s denials.
And seemingly, Trump took up Moscow’s line on the matter, tweeting that while he pressed Putin about the subject, the Russian ‘vehemently denied it.’
Adding, ‘Now it’s time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!’