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President Trump And President Putin Hold A Joint Press Conference After Summit

Source: Chris McGrath / Getty

Trump accepts Putin’s denials of election meddling


HELSINKI – President Donald Trump accepted denials by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow interfered with the 2016 U.S. election Monday, bringing swift condemnation from members of Congress from both parties.

After meeting privately with Putin for two hours in Helsinki, Trump said he held both the United States and Russia responsible for the deterioration in relations between the two countries. “I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish,” he said.

Trump also declined to challenge Putin’s insistence that his country did not meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, even though U.S. intelligence agencies under two administrations and the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Moscow sought to skew the election toward Trump.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump told a joint news conference with the Russian president.

“I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump’s embrace of Putin came on the last day of a weeklong European trip in which he berated NATO allies over their defense spending and undercut British Prime Minister Theresa May in the tabloids.

His handling of the Putin meeting drew scathing reactions from lawmakers.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Trump had made the United States look like “a pushover” and said the president’s remarks “saddened” him. Corker added that he thought Putin was likely celebrating the outcome of the meeting.

“I would guess he’s having caviar right now,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., described the meeting in Helsinki as a “tragic mistake.”

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,“ said McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.”

On Friday, the Justice Department laid out details of what it said was a far-reaching hacking scheme in an indictment of 12 Russian agents whom it accused of trying to undermine the U.S. election.

Putin told reporters through a translator that he was glad that Trump had defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election but said Moscow would “never interfere in internal American affairs.”

Trump’s refusal to challenge Putin’s denials of election meddling prompted an unusual response from the president’s own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who reasserted his belief that Moscow attempted to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling,” Coats said in a statement.

Lawmakers had urged Trump to press for the extradition of the 12 Russian intelligence agents named in the indictment but Putin did not commit to doing so.

Putin also suggested that the two countries form a joint working group on cybersecurity that would look into the election issue.

Putin proposed that same plan after they met at a Group of Seven summit in Germany last year. Trump initially supported it, but then reversed himself. Monday, he reversed himself again, calling it an “interesting idea.”



Article Courtesy of USA Today and WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland

First and Second Picture Courtesy of Chris McGrath and Getty Images

Video Courtesy of NBC News and YouTube

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