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VOL. 42 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 13, 2018

AP FACT CHECK: Trump nearly alone in Russia meddling doubts

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday he sees no reason why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 election. Minutes earlier, on the same platform, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a reason, even while denying Moscow ever meddled: He wanted Trump to win.

A look at a sampling of their statements Monday:

TRUMP on his 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."

THE FACTS: Trump is a nearly solitary figure in his administration in holding on to doubts about whether Russians tried to sway the election. Trump's top national security officials, Democrats and most Republicans in Congress say U.S. intelligence agencies got it right in finding that Russians secretly tried to sway the election. The special counsel's continuing Russia investigation has laid out a detailed trail of attempts and successes by Russians to steal Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign communications and to leak embarrassing emails and documents.

What is less established is the extent to which the Russian government, not just Russian citizens with varying ties to Moscow, became involved in this effort.

Special counsel Robert Mueller shed light on that question last week with an indictment against 12 Russian military intelligence officers, alleging a sweeping conspiracy to interfere in the election. The charges were the first to tie such alleged criminal behavior directly to the Kremlin.

Before that, Mueller brought charges against 13 Russians and three companies accused in a social media campaign to sway U.S. public opinion in 2016.

Putin denied anew that the Russian government interfered, regardless of what nongovernmental Russian actors might have done. But he was open about how he wanted the election to turn out. "Yes, I wanted him to win because he spoke of normalization of Russian-U.S. ties," he said at the news conference, acknowledging a preference that is widely suspected in Washington.

But Trump did not see that motive in play. He made the untenable assertion that "I have confidence in both parties" — his intelligence officials, who say Moscow interfered, and Putin, who says it didn't. And he appeared to lean toward Putin on the matter, saying: "I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."

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Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.

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Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

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