Moments ago, Trump held another meeting with members of his cabinet, amid the fallout of the Putin summit. A live feed is available below:
HAPPENING NOW: Pres. Trump holds Cabinet meeting amid continued fallout over Putin summit. https://t.co/H4R3BPvma1— ABC News (@ABC) July 18, 2018
Unlike yesterday's "damage control" press conference, today Trump was focusing on the economy, saying he will focus on workforce training and will make a "big announcement" on job training tomorrow; he added that he wants Americans to have a choice and find jobs they really love, so they'll "love getting up in the morning and going to work."
Pres says he'll be making "big announcement" tomorrow on a workforce training initiative. Says he wants Americans to have a choice and find jobs they really love, so they'll love getting up in the morning and going to work. @IvankaTrump also addresses Cabinet on job training. pic.twitter.com/hFzKEqbZkL— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 18, 2018
Hinting at an end to NAFTA, Trump told his cabinet the US is having "really good discussions" with Mexico and is "getting closer" in trade negotiations, and may do a separate trade agreement with Mexico. He also said the US could do a separate agreement with Canada "at a later time. He then said that autos will be the focus of trade talks with the EU on July 25.
Hinting at an end to NAFTA, Pres Trump tells Cabinet the US is having "really good discussions" with Mexico and may do a separate trade agreement with it. Says US would do a separate agreement with Canada "at a later time. Says EU leaders coming July 25 to work on trade deal too. pic.twitter.com/BHkzdmeqMI— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 18, 2018
Trump also addressed the recent decision by Pfizer not to hike some drug prices, saying "Pfizer responded appropriately to the White House call."
Finally, Trump touched on Russia, saying "there's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia... I think President Putin knows that better than anybody, certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it, and he's not happy about it."
Pres Trump says no President has been as tough on Russia as he has. "I think Pres Putin knows that better than anybody," says @POTUS in response to press pool questions at end of Cabinet meeting. pic.twitter.com/xzm29kUszN— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 18, 2018
But in a surprise twist, seconds later Trump said "no" when asked if Russia still poses a threat to the US: "Russia is no longer targeting the US."
That comment undercut his own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who said after Trump's Helsinki press conference that Russia's hostile activities against the U.S. and its allies are "ongoing."
Coats also underscored the intelligence agencies' worry that Russia is prepared to interfere with this fall's midterm elections. "We have been clear in our assessment of Russian meddling in our 2016 elections and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy," Coats said in a statement.
Predictably, Trump's latest comments raised doubts about his commitment to combating Moscow's efforts to do so, a top concern of U.S. officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Democrats on Capitol Hill pounced on Trump's latest comments, claiming they provide even more evidence that the president is too close to Putin.
"Mr. President. Walk this back too," Chuck Schumer tweeted in response to Trump's claim that Russia is no longer targeting the U.S.
As The Hill notes, it was clear Wednesday that the negative media coverage Trump's meeting with Putin has bothered him. Trump sat with his arms folded when speaking about the issue during the Cabinet meeting. When asked whether Russia is still targeting the U.S., the president indicated he did not want to answer by telling reporters "thank you" before quietly saying the word "no."