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He continues to pursue an elusive bond with Putin, which he sees as critical to dealing with North Korea, Iran and other issues.

“Having Russia in a friendly posture,” he said last month, “is an asset to the world and an asset to our country.” His position has alienated close American allies and often undercut members of his Cabinet — all against the backdrop of a criminal probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

“If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference — that takes the PDB off the rails,” said a second former senior U. The CIA continues to stand by its conclusions about the election, for example, even as the agency’s director, Mike Pompeo, frequently makes comments that seem to diminish or distort those findings. Comey traveled separately on an FBI Gulfstream aircraft, planning to extend his stay for meetings with bureau officials. The four men had convened a virtual meeting the previous evening, speaking by secure videoconference to plan their presentation to the incoming president of a classified report on Russia’s election interference and its pro-Trump objective.In October, Pompeo declared the intelligence community had concluded that Russia’s meddling “did not affect the outcome of the election.” In fact, spy agencies intentionally steered clear of addressing that question. 6, two weeks before Trump was sworn in as president, the nation’s top intelligence officials boarded an aircraft at Joint Base Andrews on the outskirts of Washington to travel to New York for one of the most delicate briefings they would deliver in their decades-long careers. Clapper Jr., CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Agency chief Michael S. During the campaign, Trump had alternately dismissed the idea of Russian involvement — saying a hack of the Democratic National Committee was just as likely carried out by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” — and prodded the Kremlin to double down on its operation and unearth additional Clinton emails.The officials had already briefed Obama and members of Congress.11 in the lobby of Trump Tower, he came as close as he ever would to grudging acceptance. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” he said, adding that “we also get hacked by other countries and other people.” As hedged as those words were, Trump regretted them almost immediately. “It wasn’t right.” Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House. His administration has moved to undo at least some of the sanctions the previous administration imposed on Russia for its election interference, exploring the return of two Russian compounds in the United States that President Barack Obama had seized — the measure that had most galled Moscow.

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