It’s too soon to know whether President Donald Trump has damaged himself and the nation with his remarks during a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley.
“How do you really know at this point, just three days later?” Grassley said. “It’s hard to tell.”
In the meantime, Grassley’s office issued a statement that the Judiciary Committee chairman “has seen no evidence to contradict the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.”
But Grassley on Wednesday said he’s willing to accept the president’s clarification of his remarks about Russian interference.
“He (Trump) said he made a mistake. He apologized for it. We ought to accept his apology and say ‘praise the lord’ when anybody that’s in politics ever says they did anything wrong, especially if they apologize for it,” the Iowa Republican said.
Trump’s apology was an “honorable thing to do,” Grassley said, “Something, quite frankly, he ought to do more often.”
Grassley was responding to questions from Iowa reporters about the president walking back his comments at the Helsinki news conference with Putin. When asked about election meddling, Trump said, “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia.
Later, the president said he meant “wouldn’t,” not “would.”
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Grassley recalled that people asked similar questions about the damage the president caused with his actions and comments at the Group of Seven meeting in Canada, before a meeting in Singapore with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and before and after the recent NATO meeting.
A year ago, Grassley said, people would have called it crazy to think Trump could get North Korea to denuclearize or even meet to talk about scaling back its nuclear program.
“It takes time to make that determination” whether Trump has damaged himself, Grassley said, referring to the number of times during the 2016 campaign that Trump “said something, did something or something came out about him and everybody was asking us, ‘Do you think he hurt his campaign?’ But he got elected.”
Grassley reiterated his position that “Russia is not a friend and Putin’s a liar.”
“But I suppose there’s a lot of liars (that) heads of state talk to,” he said.
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