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Trump changes tune on Russian election meddling: 'What I meant to say is ...'

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a soccer ball to U.S. President Donald Trump, left, during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - The delicate dance of diplomacy was on full display Monday, though following the Trump-Putin summit many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called it a disaster.

“I think it was a very embarrassing press conference,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R- Ill.

“I think it undermines our position as a nation and our security,” said Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.

In newspaper headlines worldwide, the meeting was criticized.

The question now on the minds of many is why President Donald Trump publicly sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies, when he said this:

“President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial. He just said it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be."

But one day after that shocking statement, the president changed his tune.

“What I meant to say is I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t,” he said, referring to Russian election meddling.

The acknowledgement comes after a long history of denials, said Daniel Kochis, a policy analyst on European affairs and U.S.-Russia relations with the conservative D.C. think tank The Heritage Foundation.

“My guess is that he feels that it somehow detracts from what he did to win to admit that Russia interfered in the elections,” said Kochis in an interview Tuesday.

“I think the president likes to look for areas where there’s cooperation and move forward, but I think to be strong on the world stage against Russia, I think you need to be very clear about where the United States stands and you need to do so often times publicly,” he added.

Still, some are defending President Trump.

“We don’t know how this is going to come out until we look back on it through the portals of history,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

Now that he’s backtracked on his remarks, many in Washington say they’ll be watching to see how it impacts President Trump’s relationship with President Putin moving forward.

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