US President Donald Trump has said he accepts US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election – despite declining to do so just a day ago.
After meeting Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin he said he could not see why Russia would meddle.
The comments drew outrage even among his supporters.
But he told reporters that he misspoke and had meant to say he saw no reason why it was not Russia that meddled.
He said he had full “faith and support” in US intelligence agencies and would take “strong action” to secure the US election process.
Mr Trump said that the interference had no impact on the election, which saw him defeat Hillary Clinton.
However, he did not respond when reporters asked him if he would condemn Mr Putin.
At the summit in Helsinki on Monday, Mr Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to allegations of meddling in the 2016 presidential vote.
“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be,” he replied.
He also upset some in the US by refusing to offer specific criticism of Russia, instead saying he held both countries responsible for their poor relations.
The Helsinki press conference drew strong condemnation: one of his Republican supporters, Newt Gingrich, said it was the “most serious mistake of his presidency” and Mr Trump had been urged to clarify his comments.