President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, were at pains to stress the constructive nature of their closely-watched summit, but both became markedly defensive when talking about Russian interference in the United States presidential election in 2016.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC, a golfing partner of the president, called the event a "missed opportunity" for Trump "to firmly hold Russian Federation accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections". The president tried dodging a question about Russian interference by pivoting to conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton's email server and the Democratic National Committee's server that had been compromised by Russian spies.
On Tuesday, Trump sought to walk back his widely-criticized comments, saying he agreed with the us intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation interfered in the election.
At the joint appearance in Finland with Putin, Trump repeated the Russian leader's denials about involvement in the election.
Casey added, "Instead of holding Vladimir Putin accountable in Helsinki, President Trump embraced him and in doing so diminished America's standing in the global community and shamed the office of the presidency". "I really think the world wants to see us get along".
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Putin then added: "I had to repeat Russian Federation has and will never interfere with USA domestic affairs in an election campaign". Putin, as always, denied all. Asked if Russian Federation was at all to blame for the poor ties, he said: "I hold both countries responsible. He feels strongly about the issue and has an interesting idea", Trump told a joint news conference with Putin in the Finnish capital Helsinki. He adds: "The president must appreciate that Russian Federation is not our ally". "The President of the United States just questioned publicly the conclusions of the USA intelligence community and spread conspiracy theories to excuse Russia's cyber attack on the United States".
But Cooper was not the only one who just couldn't believe his eyes.
He called Trump's performance "thoughtless" and "dangerous" and "weak".
Trump's comments Monday offered insight into why he's so reluctant to acknowledge Moscow's role. The United States is not to blame. "And also, for your team itself doing so well", Trump said to Putin.
"Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this risky behaviour is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump", he tweeted. Even though Trump hedged on whether he believed his own appointees to the nation's intelligence agencies, he did say that Putin was "extremely strong and powerful in his denial today". Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) tweeted that Trump's performance at the press conference was "jaw-dropping" and "disgraceful". John McCain's rebuke of Trump, comments criticizing Congressional Republicans, or otherwise, there is a clear theme here. John Brennan, who served as Central Intelligence Agency director between 2013 and January 2017, called the president's comments "treasonous". The leading House Democrat calls it "a sad day for America". "It was nothing short of treasonous".