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White House updates online transcript of Trump-Putin news conference

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The White House has updated the online transcript of President Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow accused the White House of editing the video and transcript to omit a question from a Reuters reporter about whether Putin wanted Mr. Trump to win in 2016. 

The White House, as CBS News reported earlier this week, had said that the omission was due to a video feed switch that left out part of the question from Reuters’ Jeff Mason. The Washington Post pointed out that their own audio and transcript also initially omitted the question. 

The White House transcript now reads:

“Q: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election?  And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”

“PRESIDENT PUTIN: (As interpreted.) Yes, I did.  Yes, I did.  Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

A search with the WayBack Machine tool reveals the online transcript was updated at some point in the first half of Thursday.

The transcript became a point of contention because of how widely Mr. Trump’s performance in Helsinki was criticized, even by members of his own party. It was also a point of contention given that Mr. Trump at the news conference appeared to say he didn’t see how it could have been Russia that meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Trump later said he misspoke, claiming he meant to say he didn’t see how it couldn’t have been Russia. 

A White House official told CBS News earlier this week that the White House stenographer uses the White House audio to produce transcripts. The audio mixer at the site in Helsinki did not bring up the question mic level in time to catch the beginning of Mason’s question because the translator was still speaking, the official said. That the video and transcript did not include the first part of the question, the official said, was by no means malicious. 

The White House also said the transcript was updated for presidential records, although at the time on Wednesday, the online version of the transcript still omitted the reporter’s first question. 

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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