President Donald Trump said Tuesday he's "very concerned" that Russia will attempt to meddle in the upcoming midterm elections to the benefit of the Democrats because he says he's been so tough on Russia.
I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
The expression of concern about Russian meddling is a change in tone for the president, who has repeatedly expressed doubts about Russia's role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.
As recently as Sunday night, President Trump again referred to the concept of Russian election meddling as a “big hoax.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has since sought to argue that the president was only “referring to the claim that his campaign had anything to do with it.”
So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election. Why didn’t he do something about it? Why didn’t he tell our campaign? Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018
Standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin last Monday, President Trump said he had “confidence in both parties,” referring to the U.S. and Russia.
“President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” the president said last Monday.
Then on Tuesday, Trump issued a rare clarification and said he misspoke.
"In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word would instead of wouldn't, the sentence should have been, ‘I don't see any reason why it wouldn't,’ or why it wouldn't be Russia,” he said.
The president's expression of concern for future meddling also stands in contrast to previous comments.
Just last week,the president twice said "no" when ABC News' Cecilia Vega asked if he believed Russia was still targeting the U.S. Such as response would seem to contradict the president's Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats who had recently warned that "the warning lights are blinking red again" when it came to the threat of Russian cyber attacks.
The White House later said the president was saying "no" to taking reporters' questions and was not answering Vega's question.
There is currently no publicly available evidence to support the president's claim that the Kremlin is interested in helping Democrats in the fall election.
In Helsinki last week, Putin said he did want Trump to win the election because Trump had "talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."
Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer seized on Putin's past comment as a counter-point to the president's tweet, blasting out the video clip with the caption "let's go to the videotape (again)."