Republican leaders listened, publically speaking out against Trump. This pressure led to Trump holding a press conference to clarify his statements.
According to Vanity Fair, Trump's top advisers were shocked by the President's statements exonerating Putin from meddling in American elections, even though Trump himself seemed "proud" of how he'd handled the press conference.
"He was enraged there was a lack of people out there defending him,” one Republican source close the White House reportedly told VF. “This was the nightmare scenario,” said another.
National Security Adviser John Bolton objected to Trump's statements, but suggested, allegedly, that the White House remain mum on the issue, telling the President's staff that an abrupt turnaround on statements made in the press conference might make the President look weak. But, Vanity Fair, says, Kelly had other ideas.
"But Chief of Staff John Kelly was irate. According to a source, he told Trump it would make things worse for him with Robert Mueller," the magazine reports. "He also exerted pressure to try to get the president to walk back his remarks. According to three sources familiar with the situation, Kelly called around to Republicans on Capitol Hill and gave them the go-ahead to speak out against Trump."