What to Know
- President Donald Trump said Monday he believed Vladimir Putin's denial that Russia interfered with the US election.
- Tuesday, Trump walked back that statement, saying he misspoke.
- Democrats and many prominent Republicans have spoken out against Trump's comments, but some of his supporters are standing by them.
The president's supporters are a loyal bunch. They have defended Donald Trump through a number of controversies that many said he could not possibly survive. And supporters say the fallout from the Helsinki summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is just another example of that.
Massachusetts Republican committeewoman Janet Fogarty thinks the outrage over the press conference has been wildly exaggerated.
"I think that the press is blowing it out of proportion and making it sound like he threw our intelligence under the bus. I didn't hear that at all," she said. "The Democrats are going to really just go off the rails, probably, because they are desperate."
Highlighting the sharp political divide in the country, what played out in Helsinki between Trump and Putin, particularly on 2016 election interference, was interpreted completely differently. Where Democrats saw Trump cowering to Putin, putting his faith in the Russian leader over his own intelligence team, Republicans Senate candidate Geoff Diehl saw hypocrisy.
"The same FBI that has been trying to create a false dossier to try to incriminate him during the campaign? It turns out our own law enforcement was the one trying to undermine our president during the elections of 2016," Diehl said.
Despite such statements in support of disavowing U.S. intelligence officials, even Trump has not publicly maintained this stance. He now claims he misspoke.
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"The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why I wouldn't, or why it wouldn't be Russia" instead of "why it would," the president said Tuesday in the wake of backlash.
While a handful of prominent Republicans in Congress have publicly denounced Trump, a majority have kept silent.
"With our president, it's important to look at the results and look at what he achieves and a little less so what he actually says, the exact wording of what he says," argued Trump 2016 convention delegate Amy Carnevale.
"The Republican base is strong in that a lot of independents look at him and say, 'I like him, because he's actually doing something,'" Republican political analyst Pat Griffin said. "The question is, what cue do the politicians in Washington take from the American people, and does this rise to a point, with most Americans, where they say, 'we've had enough?'"
The state's most prominent Republican, Gov. Charlie Baker, said he had enough a long time ago. Tuesday, he said the president's commentary was a disgrace and deeply disturbing. Baker's Republican primary opponent, Scott Lively, gave Trump's summit with Putin "two thumbs up."