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House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Sunday called on top intelligence officers to step down if President Donald Trump refuses to accept their assessment that the Russian government is interfering in USA elections.

Trump's tweets on Thursday come as he has alternated between trying to quell a political uproar over his comments in Helsinki - he refused to back the United States intelligence community's assessment of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election during a joint news conference with Putin, instead touting Putin's strong denials - and his desire to not back down or apologize over his performance.

Clinton spoke at New York's OZY Fest on Saturday and addressed Republican President Donald Trump's encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, amid special counsel Robert Mueller's warning that Russian intelligence services have active "interference operations" in US politics. "There is simply no other way to explain why he would side with this Kremlin former KGB officer rather than his own intelligence agencies".

But the next day, Trump pulled back his comments, saying he meant to say "wouldn't" instead of "would". "The Russians interfered in our elections".

"It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russian Federation is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016", Gowdy said.

"We will see how things develop further", Mr Putin said, evoking unnamed "forces" in the USA trying to prevent any improvement in relations and "putting narrow party interests above the national interest".

Trump's own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, said during the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday that he didn't "know what happened in that meeting".

Video: Trump on DNC Server
Donald Trump's intelligence chief says he meant no disrespect to president over Putin meeting

Trump backpedaled in the following days, saying he accepted the conclusions of US intelligence agencies that Russian Federation sought to interfere in the election and that he held Putin responsible.

Rubio said he didn't have a "problem" with Mr. Trump meeting with Putin, saying it was "important" for the USA and Russian Federation to speak to one another.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Helsinki, July 16, 2018. "I think he walked away from that a long time ago". A clearly surprised Coats, who had not been told of the invitation, laughed and said, "That's going to be special".

"I call it a secret deal... because even the Director of National Intelligence, the person from whom no secrets are kept, doesn't know what the anticipated agenda of the summit was, what in fact the content of the two-hour private summit was, and the fact that there will be a follow-on summit..."

"So President Obama knew about Russian Federation before the Election", Trump tweeted. "I don't understand the apparent blindness (Trump) has to Putin's hostile acts".

Trump grudgingly walked back one of those remarks after returning to Washington, but then muddied the waters again - first by suggesting unspecified "others" might have interfered in the US election as well, an assertion unsupported by intelligence, and then by answering "no" when he was asked the next day if Russian Federation is continuing to "target" the United States generally.

"(Putin) is not interested in better relations with the United States", Republican Sen.

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