Former United States Vice President Joe Biden contradicted President Donald Trump’s comment over the weekend that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that his country did not meddle in the 2016 election.
“I’m reluctant to criticise the president when he’s abroad, but I don’t believe Putin. And there’s no good reason to believe Putin in my view,” Biden said during an appearance on NBC’s Today show.
“I don’t think any objective person should believe Putin on this score,” said Biden, who served in the Obama administration. He also told a story about how in 2011 he told Putin that he has no soul. “When I said that to Putin, his response was to me that ‘we understand one another.’ I wanted to make it clear to him that I understood where he was coming from, as long as he knew where I was coming from.”
Questions about Putin’s trustworthiness arose this weekend when Trump met with the Russian leader at the Asia-Pacific summit. As Trump flew to Hanoi, Vietnam, after the meeting Saturday, he told reporters aboard Air Force One that the high-ranking intelligence officials who compiled a report finding Russia interfered in the election “are political hacks.”
“So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar, and he is proven now to be a leaker. So you look at that, and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey, served under both Republican and Democrat governments. They were respectively responsible for compiling the joint CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and FBI report in January that found the Kremlin worked to hurt Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton and help him in the election. Trump campaigned on a platform of improving relations with Russia and doing away with sanctions.
The president has called the ongoing Russia investigations into the Trump campaign in Congress and by special counsel Robert Mueller a political “witch hunt” created by the Democrats.
On Saturday, Trump seemed to indicate he trusted Putin’s word that Russia didn’t meddle in the election.
The president’s statements drew swift blowback from America’s intelligence community, including his own officials. The CIA issued a statement that Director Mike Pompeo “stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.”
Trump sought to clarify his comments on Sunday in Hanoi. “I believe that [Putin] feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether or not I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership.”
During his interview Monday, Biden also addressed rumors that he will attempt a run for president in 2020.
“I honest to God, haven’t made up my mind about that,” he said when asked on the Today show about whether he will run. “I’m not closing the door on it,” he added. (Newsweek)