Following a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates criticized Trump for his "inexplicable refusal" to accept Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
"POTUS' inexplicable refusal to confirm Russian election interference insults career intel pros & hinders our ability to prevent in future," Yates wrote on Twitter on July 7, reports The Hill.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reportedly explained that Trump took Putin at his word for what had happened during the 2016 election.
Trump and Putin reportedly discussed alleged Russian interference at multiple junctures, though Putin maintained that the Kremlin had no involvement in tampering with U.S. election results, according to CNN.
"They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject," said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of the meeting between Trump and Putin.
The day before, the president said he was on the fence about a possible culprit in election meddling.
"I think it very well could be Russia but I think it could very well have been other countries," said Trump during a July 6 news conference in Warsaw, Poland, reports CNN.
To back his reservation of judgment, Trump referenced intelligence mishaps during the build-up to the war in Iraq, according to The Hill.
"I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100 percent certain that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction," said Trump.
He added: "Guess what? That led to one big mess. They were wrong, and it led to a mess."
During that same news conference, Trump reportedly confirmed his belief that Russia was behind hacks of Democratic groups during the 2016 presidential race.
"I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, I see nothing wrong with that statement," said Trump. "Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure."
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper disputed the notion that alleged meddling could have been laid at the feet of any country other than Russia.
"As far as others doing this, boy, that's news to me," said Clapper on July 6. "We saw no evidence whatsoever that it was anyone involved in this other than the Russians."
Laura Galante, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Cyber Statecraft Initiative, explained that Trump is "not just in a minority anymore" about his views on Russia.
"He's in an extreme minority," Galante said. "The people who study this field are not just strongly convinced but in complete clarity."