As President Donald Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and called the Russian president's denials of Russian meddling "extremely strong," he snapped back into focus for lawmakers and cybersecurity experts alike the subject of election meddling.
Trump's remarks, which he has since tried to clarify, are in sharp contrast to the findings of the U.S. intelligence community. They provoked criticism from both sides of the aisle, and cybersecurity experts said Trump's stance could be putting the upcoming midterm elections at risk.
"Make no mistake, Russia was successful, and as the director of national intelligence recently stated, they continue their efforts to undermine our democracy," said John Cohen, the former acting undersecretary for intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security and an ABC News contributor. "From all I have seen and heard from law enforcement and intelligence professionals we are woefully unprepared to stop Russia's attack."
During the Helsinki summit, Trump said he had no reason not to believe Putin when the Russian president denied meddling. This runs counter to findings of the U.S. intelligence community that has repeatedly asserted that Russians interfere in the election.
The president has since walked back his remarks, telling reporters on Tuesday he misspoke during the press conference with Putin and that he has full faith in the intelligence community.
"It is deeply deeply troubling that anyone would equate the denial of the Russian president as somehow equal evidence to the professional opinions and judgments of the intelligence community," said Michael Sulmeyer, the Director of Harvard's cybersecurity project. "But for the most part I don't see very many other people making that comparison."
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