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The Week In Quotes

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The week abounded with soundbites about Russia, Putin, would and wouldn't be. Monday - Putin and Trump at a press conference in Helsinki.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My people came to me - Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia.

SIMON: President Trump said he did not believe what U.S. intelligence agencies say, that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections.

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TRUMP: I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this - I don't see any reason why it would be.

SIMON: But on Tuesday...

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TRUMP: I realize that there is a need for some clarification.

SIMON: But it didn't clarify much.

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TRUMP: I said the word would instead of wouldn't. The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why I wouldn't or why it wouldn't be Russia.

SIMON: Then he added...

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TRUMP: I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place - could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.

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DAN COATS: The warning lights are blinking red.

SIMON: Well, Dan Coats, the nation's top intelligence officer, says the United States is still under active cyberattack by Russia.

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COATS: Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.

SIMON: ABC's Cecilia Vega asked the president on Wednesday...

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CECILIA VEGA: Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Press, let's go. Make your way out.

SIMON: Trump said, thank you, no, which later that day press secretary Sarah Sanders explained by saying...

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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: The president was - said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions.

SIMON: Even though President Trump had gone on to answer more questions.

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TRUMP: We are doing very well, and we're doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia.

SIMON: Then in an interview with CBS' Jeff Glor, which aired on Wednesday...

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JEFF GLOR: Do you say you agree with U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016?

TRUMP: Yeah but - and I've said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before.

SIMON: But the president has said a lot of names numerous times before.

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TRUMP: Could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

Could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries.

If it is Russia, nobody even knows. It's probably China.

SIMON: This week - and at least for the moment - the president says he holds Vladimir Putin responsible in the broadest way.

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TRUMP: Because he's in charge of the country, just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly, as the leader of a country, you would have to hold him responsible, yes.

SIMON: But no hard feelings.

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ANDREA MITCHELL: The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.

SIMON: Andrea Mitchell of NBC delivered that news to Dan Coats live on stage at the Aspen Security Forum and the director of National Intelligence said...

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COATS: That's going to be special.

(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.