President Trump "understands what Russia did in our elections in 2016 and he has empowered" his administration officials to ensure it doesn’t happen in this year’s midterm elections or in 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Thursday, adding that "this administration has been relentless in its efforts to deter Russia from its bad behavior… President Trump has been strong in protecting America from Russian aggression."
Pompeo said Trump has been briefed on the matter consistently and knows Russia interfered both in 2016 and prior years, adding that the matter gets “confused” because some people want to make it a partisan issue due to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
The Secretary of State also rejected any idea Trump is weak compared to Russian President Vladimir Putin or that Putin may have compromising information on Trump: "Those allegations are absurd."
The Secretary of State claimed the Trump administration had inherited a situation from its predecessor where Russia was "running all over the US."
Pompeo also said he doubted that US and Russian presidents had made important verbal agreements at their recent summit.
"I’m not sure I take the Russian ambassador’s word for a whole lot. From time to time they want to tell stories,” Pompeo said on Fox News.
The top US diplomat said he had a chance to talk with Trump about his private discussions with Putin in Helsinki last Monday. "There was progress made on a handful of agreements to try and work more closely on counterterrorism, an effort to begin conversations around arms control."
.@SecPompeo on @POTUS' meeting with Putin: "There was progress made on a handful of fronts: Agreements to try and work more closely on counterterrorism, an effort to begin conversations around arms control to prevent the spread of nuclear proliferation." @foxnewsnight pic.twitter.com/TXKvpNzgPA— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 20, 2018
Refuting that, however, the Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov told Rossia-1 television channel on Wednesday Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump reached deals on matters of global security.
Earlier, Pompeo told the EWTN TV channel that Donald Trump was able to set up a channel for dialogue with Russia: "The President was aiming towards creating a channel for communication and dialogue, and he achieved that" he said.
Pompeo also complained about "a lot of heat" following this Monday’s summit between the two presidents, who met behind closed doors in Helsinki. "The President had the objective of taking two countries that’d been on a bad path and trying to redirect that," he underscored.
Earlier in the day, Donald Trump told CNBC that "he would be the worst enemy" Russian President Vladimir Putin has ever had if relationship between the United States and Russia falters.
"Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia is a positive, not a negative," Trump told CNBC. "Now with that being said, if that doesn’t work out I’ll be the worst enemy he’s ever had, the worst he’s ever had."