President Donald Trump refused to condemn Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election on Monday morning, prompting high-profile Republicans and even his own director of national intelligence to push back.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC said Trump missed an opportunity to "firmly hold Russian Federation accountable" for its actions and warn it not to meddle in the USA electoral process again. That U.S. investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, unveiled an indictment Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader, says never in the history of the country has a president supported an American adversary the way Trump supported Putin.
Trump's trip to Belgium, Britain and Finland was marked by his frequent taunts and threats aimed at America's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, a sharp contrast to his unrestrained bid to curry favour with Russian Federation despite the conclusion by United States intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. election to aid his candidacy.
Putin, who has been staring down American presidents since he rose to power in 2000, dismissed Trump's concerns about Russia's annexation of Crimea and gave vague promises to hold a dialogue about Syria and nuclear weapons.
"I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia, Trump said.
"I've been saying - and I'm sure you've heard over the years - and as I campaigned, that getting along with Russian Federation is a good thing, not a bad thing", said Trump.
Even by the upside-down standards of 2018, the sight of a US president standing alongside a Russian one and attacking an investigation by this country's Justice Department was disgraceful.
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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said, "The US-Russia relationship faces many challenges".
After a remarkable 45-minute joint press conference, the White House struggled to explain why Trump aligned so closely with the Russian leader, a chief geopolitical foe.
"Trump instead accepted Putin's denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community", Sanders wrote on Twitter as the White House lauded the Finland summit as "constructive".
The US intelligence community has long believed that the Kremlin often uses proxies and outside groups to do its bidding in order to maintain plausible deniability. "I really believe that", Trump said, vowing the summit was "only the beginning".
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"The president is doing grave harm to the standing of these United States while kowtowing to".
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from SC, who has had a closer working relationship with Trump on issues related to health care and tax reform, tweeted that the summit was a "missed opportunity". "This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russian Federation as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves", Graham said on Twitter.
Asked whether he had wanted Trump to win the 2016 election and had instructed officials to help him, Putin said "Yes I did", although he denied any interference, saying the allegations were "complete nonsense".
There were mixed reactions on Fox News Channel, whose commentators usually represent Trump's biggest supporters. John Brennan, who served as Central Intelligence Agency director between 2013 and January 2017, called the president's comments "treasonous".
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President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. "The best people to check him are not Democrats, but his fellow Republicans". Brennan says, "It was nothing short of treasonous".