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Trump Takes Back His Plans For A Cybersecurity Unit With Russia

About 12 hours after tweeting that he wanted to form "an impenetrable Cyber Security unit" with Russia, President Donald Trump said he didn't actually mean it.

Last updated on July 9, 2017, at 9:49 p.m. ET

Posted on July 9, 2017, at 11:01 a.m. ET

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump wants to "move forward in working constructively with Russia," he said in a tweetstorm Sunday morning, a few days after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Reports following that meeting — which was attended by only the two heads of state, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and translators — presented two different versions of events. Lavrov told reporters that Trump had accepted Putin's denial that Russia interfered in the US election, while Tillerson said they had landed on an "intractable disagreement" over whether or not Russia was involved.

Then, on Sunday, Trump announced plans to form "an impenetrable Cyber Security unit" with Russia, "so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.."

Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..

However, Trump failed to say definitively whether he accepted Russia's denial, instead tweeting, "I've already given my opinion."

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I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion.....

...We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!

Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..

...and safe. Questions were asked about why the CIA & FBI had to ask the DNC 13 times for their SERVER, and were rejected, still don't....

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...have it. Fake News said 17 intel agencies when actually 4 (had to apologize). Why did Obama do NOTHING when he had info before election?

Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin. Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!

Trump's announcement that he wants to work with Russia on cybersecurity comes at an interesting time — two US government officials told the Washington Post Saturday that the Russian government was behind recent cyberattacks on US nuclear facilities and other energy generators.

Republican leaders responded to Trump's tweets Sunday morning by emphasizing, to varying degrees, that Russia cannot be trusted as a partner.

Nikki Haley, Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, cautioned against trusting Russia when asked about the president's tweets on CNN's State of the Union, saying that while the US needs to communicate to Russia that its hacking is unacceptable, "this doesn't mean — it doesn't mean we ever trust Russia."

UN Ambassador @nikkihaley: "We can't trust Russia and we won't ever trust Russia” #CNNSOTU https://t.co/UwCOJqhR7y

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"We can't trust Russia, and we won't ever trust Russia," Haley said. "But you keep those that you don't trust closer so that you can always keep an eye on them and keep them in check."

Asked about Trump's tweets on CBS News' Face the Nation, Senator John McCain laughed and said, "I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort, since he is doing the hacking."

.@SenJohnMcCain says he's sure Putin could be of assistance in Trump's effort to prevent election hacking "since he… https://t.co/0VhAaCRQK8

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, evaded the question of whether or not Trump accepted Putin's denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election, instead insisting to ABC News' This Week that Trump is "focused on strategically negotiating with Putin."

Asked if Trump accepts intel conclusion on election meddling, Mnuchin says president is "focused on strategically n… https://t.co/hv4Wq57ZNY

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Senator Lindsey Graham said on Meet the Press that Trump has a "blind spot" on Russia.

"It's not the dumbest idea I've ever heard but it's pretty close," Graham said. "He gave a really good speech in Poland, President Trump did, and he had what I think is a disastrous meeting with President Putin."

He went on to say that he thinks Trump is doing a good job on national security in other parts of the world, including in his responses to North Korea, ISIS, and the war in Afghanistan.

"But when it comes to Russia he's got a blind spot," Graham added. "And to forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyberattacks is to empower Putin. And that's exactly what he's doing."

WATCH: Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC responds to Trump's call to work with Russia, saying it's not the dumbest idea "but it… https://t.co/a88aaeg790

Senator Marco Rubio compared partnering with Putin on cybersecurity to working with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on chemical weapons.

While reality & pragmatism requires that we engage Vladimir Putin, he will never be a trusted ally or a reliable constructive partner. 1/3

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Partnering with Putin on a "Cyber Security Unit" is akin to partnering with Assad on a "Chemical Weapons Unit". 2/3

We have no quarrel with Russia or the Russian people. Problem is with Putin & his oppression, war crimes & interference in our elections 1/3

Former CIA director John Brennan also weighed in on Meet the Press, calling Trump's handling of the Russian election meddling situation "dishonorable."

"I seriously question whether or not Mr. Putin heard from Mr. Trump what he needed to about the assault on our democratic institutions," he said.

EXCLUSIVE: Former CIA Director John Brennan says Trump's refusal to acknowledge Russia's interference in US electio… https://t.co/mMX8rv6M8W

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"He said it’s an 'honor' to meet President Putin," Brennan added. "An honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election? To me, it was a dishonorable thing to say."

And US Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian election interference, called Trump's proposed joint cybersecurity unit "dangerously naive."

"I don't think we can move on," Schiff said on State of the Union. " I don't think we can expect the Russians to be any kind of a credible partner in some cybersecurity unit. I think that would be dangerously naive for this country. If that's our best election defense we might as well just mail our ballots to Moscow."

A cyber security working group with the very perpetrators of the attack on our election? Might as well just mail ou… https://t.co/J2tuoG483m

By Sunday night, just hours after suggesting the US–Russia cybersecurity initiative, Trump appeared to walk back the idea, declaring that just because he and Putin discussed the idea "doesn't mean I think it can happen."

"It can't-but a ceasefire can, & and did!" he added, referring to the Syrian ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia that went into effect Sunday morning.

The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't-but a ceasefire can,& did!

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