6:40 p.m. ET, July 17, 2018
Trump led the crafting of his clarification today, sources say
President Donald Trump talks about his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with House Republicans in the Cabinet Room of the White House on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
As White House aides and a few outside advisers scrambled today to respond to the overwhelming criticism from the summit in Helsinki, President Trump concluded in a meeting that he wanted to say he misspoke.
Two officials said it was the President who led the crafting of his clarification. That’s how he wanted to characterize it.
It became clear that initial discussions of doing it on Twitter would not be enough and that he had to do something today. Trump was hearing from more people through phone calls and messages. He spoke to key lawmakers and outside confidants leading up to his afternoon remarks.
One driving factor was a fear of resignations in the intelligence community — possibly Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or others — and a sense that it “looked unpatriotic.”
The President still believes the criticism is being blown way out of proportion, an official said, and he plans to try and turn the attacks on the press once again.
But his references to "no collision" and remarks that there "could be other people" were also viewed as another mistake, an official said.
“He is consumed with talk of no collusion,” an official said, saying he repeated it all day and “thinks it’s the answer to everything.”