President Donald Trump appears to have amended a prepared statement he read in front of cameras Tuesday aimed at walking back comments he made the day before where he sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over US intelligence agencies on the issue of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Speaking from the White House, Trump read from a typed statement to quell the widespread outrage from Monday's news conference with Russia's leader and reinforce his support of US intelligence officials.
But, as captured by several news photographers in the room, the president added to and crossed out parts of the statement with a black Sharpie.
"There was no colusion [sic]," he apparently wrote in capital letters. The document also contained a line vowing to bring election hackers to justice that had been crossed out.
A New York Times photojournalist shared a picture of the talking points, showing that the president added in his own line after stating, "in saying — as I have said before — that I ACCEPT our intelligence community’s conclusions about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections.”
Here's a close up:
The president said he accidentally misspoke when he stated on Monday, "I don't see any reason why it would be Russia" that interfered in the US presidential election, and calling Putin "extremely strong and powerful in his denial." Trump said Tuesday he meant to say “wouldn’t.”
The president also decided to nix a line emphasizing that the US would take action against those involved in the election hack, crossing out a sentence that read: "Anyone involved in that meddling to justice."
On Friday, a grand jury charged 12 Russian military officials with hacking Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and two Democratic organizations.
Trump also attempted to reinforce his administration's efforts to prevent Russian interference in upcoming elections and express his support of US intelligence agencies. But he decided to soften his delivery and again suggest that Russia might not have been involved in the 2016 hack.
After saying he accepts the intelligence community's conclusion that Russian meddling took place, he ad-libbed a caveat: It "could be other people also."
"A lot of people out there," he repeated, before emphasizing "there was no collusion at all, and people have seen that and they’ve seen that strongly."
The president made a few other changes to the prepared statement, including striking a paragraph explaining the importance of diplomacy.