During a contentious press briefing on Wednesday, NBC's Hallie Jackson pushed back on President Donald Trump's repeated reversals over Russian Federation.
Her comments stood in sharp contrast to those of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who held open the possibility that what Trump called "an incredible offer" is being weighed.
Even Republican lawmakers who accepted Trump's Tuesday walkback, when he explained that he misspoke when he said he had no reason to believe Russian Federation was involved in election interference, sounded the alarm yesterday.
An exchange between President Trump and a reporter Wednesday during a Cabinet meeting has sparked confusion about where Mr. Trump stands on whether Russian Federation is continuing to target the United States.
"No? You don't believe that to be the case?"
He appeared to respond again: "No".
"We will see how things develop further", Mr Putin said, evoking unnamed "forces" in the USA trying to prevent any improvement in relations and "putting narrow party interests above the national interest".
"We're going to have a massive effort to try to get to what happened".
Later, Ms Vega tweeted that the president had been looking directly at her when he answered.
US intelligence leaders only refer to the "red lights" when matters are dire.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president did was not replying to a reporter's question about whether he believes Russian Federation is still targeting the United States and its elections.
Trump has been determined to forge closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, culminating in this week's extraordinary summit in Helsinki.
Signalling Republicans' own efforts at damage control in the wake of Trump's Helsinki performance, McConnell said there might be a vote on a bill sponsored by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, that would create punishments if Russian Federation interferes in the 2018 midterm elections. "I just want to have this country be safe". "So, certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes", Trump said.
By day's end, in an interview with CBS News, Trump was ready to set an unmistakably forceful tone. "It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!" McConnell, like many Republicans, stopped short of criticising Trump.
And some anchors ripped him, in the new style of strong criticism of Trump from those who are not commentators.
Graham added, "I'd be curious to find why the President doesn't believe that" latest suggesting that Mr. Trump "needs to explain to the American people why he rejects the intelligence assessment about their ongoing activity against our democracy".
So what did he say to Putin about it, then?
Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican and a vocal critic of Trump, had labelled his performance as "shameful".
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a very vocal opponent of Donald Trump ever since he began his presidential campaign. "If he were to do that, I think that would absolutely be grounds for removal from office", the California Democrat said Wednesday in an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront".
"I've been trying my best to give the President the benefit of the doubt and always expressed potential other theories as to why he behaves as he does with respect to Russian Federation generally and Putin specifically", Clapper told CNN Thursday.
On Tuesday, Trump read from a printed statement, and said he had misspoken in Helsinki.
These remarks came in an interview to CBS News even as his aides were putting out another fire, clarifying that Trump hadn't said that Russian Federation was not targeting the United States anymore.
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