Donald Trump returns to US to face bipartisan condemnation after standing by Vladimir Putin and Russia

July 18, 2018 in News by RBN Staff


Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Video: US President Donald Trump says the Russian probe has kept the two countries separated (ABC News)

US President Donald Trump has arrived home from his one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki to a wave of criticism that has crossed party lines.

Mr Trump has been slammed for the comments he made at a press conference after the two leaders had met, in which he appeared to take the side of Mr Putin and Russia over his own FBI in regard to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Standing alongside Mr Putin, Mr Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week’s federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Donald J. Trump


As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!

“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,” Mr Trump said.

“He just said ‘it’s not Russia’. I will say this — I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

His scepticism drew a quick formal statement — almost a rebuttal — from Mr Trump’s director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.

“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Mr Coats said.

The fallout to the meeting and press conference has called the conduct of both Mr Trump and Mr Putin into question, with the Russian President again denying the Russian state had any part in influencing the US election — even as a Fox News journalist tried to hand him the indictment documents of 12 Russian intelligence officials during an interview.

Politicians from both major parties and former intelligence officials appeared shocked, dismayed and uneasy with Mr Trump’s suggestion he believes Mr Putin’s denial of interfering in the 2016 elections.

Almost 24 hours after the summit, Mr Trump reiterated his positive opinion of the meeting in Helsinki on Twitter.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way — the Fake News is going Crazy!” Mr Trump said.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

VIDEO: US media try to give Putin copy of Mueller indictments (ABC News)

It was a remarkable break with US intelligence officials and the Justice Department and, just as alarming for some, Mr Trump also put the two countries on the same footing when casting blame for their strained relations.

Senator John McCain called it, “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”, while Senator Ben Sasse called it “bizarre”.

John McCain


Today’s press conference in was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.

My full statement on the : 

Senator Jeff Flake called the press conference “shameful” and Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that it was a “bad day for the US”.

“This was a very good day for President Putin,” said Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He said Mr Trump’s refusal to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election made the US, “look like a pushover”.

Republican Will Hurd said he had seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people in his earlier career as a CIA officer. But, he tweeted:

Rep. Will Hurd


Since 2016, I have called on Obama and Trump to take action against Putin. We should not start trade wars with our allies and play nice with communist tyrants. 

Rep. Will Hurd


I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands.

House Speaker Paul Ryan weighed in to say there was “no question” Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and “no moral equivalence” between the US and Russia.

“The President must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Mr Ryan said in a statement.

“[Russia] remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”

Putin ‘is gloating’ after Helsinki press conference

Professor Tim Nichols, an expert on Russian affairs at the US Naval War College, said America’s opponents will now think they have “carte blanche” to do as they please, without consequences.

“Putin in particular is gloating, and thinks that he can pretty much do whatever he wants and that the President, when faced with a difference of opinion between what the Russians are doing and what his advisers are telling him, will cover Putin’s back,” he said.

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VIDEO: Putin says he wanted Trump to win the election (ABC News)

Professor Nichols said Mr Putin is now feeling “emboldened” and he thinks the Russian President could now start causing problems on NATO’s eastern border and continue unchecked with military actions in Syria.

“And when confronted, he’ll shrug and say, well, you know, the President of the United States believes me.”

Much of the Republican rebuke came from politicians who have been willing to openly criticise the President, a group that remains a minority in the GOP.

Many top Republicans remained on the sidelines after the Justice Department on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for election-related hacking.

But several Republicans who do not typically buck the President raised concerns, shocked by Monday’s performance.

Trump ally Newt Gingrich called it, “the most serious mistake” of Mr Trump’s presidency — and one that, “must be corrected immediately”.

Newt Gingrich


President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.

Democrats pleaded with their GOP colleagues who have majority control of Congress to rein in the President and become a stronger legislative check on the executive branch.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said never in the history of the country had an American president supported an adversary the way Mr Trump sided with Mr Putin.

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VIDEO: Putin says he wanted Trump to win the election (Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (ABC News)

He challenged Republicans to move beyond words and to confront the President directly by increasing sanctions on Russia and requesting testimony about the summit from Trump administration officials, among other things.

“We need our Republican colleagues to stand up for the good of this country,” he said.

Chuck Schumer


A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: what could possibly cause @realDonaldTrump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States

Chuck Schumer


Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.

And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Mr Trump’s weakness in front of Mr Putin was not just “embarrassing” but also, “proves that the Russians have something on the President, personally, financially or politically”.

Republicans have been hesitant to fully confront the President, who remains popular among GOP voters back home. But Mr Trump’s hold on the GOP is being put to the test by his willingness to align with Mr Putin, a leader whom Republicans routinely describe as an enemy of the United States.

Bob Goodlatte


We’ve seen time and again that Russia will stop at nothing to interfere with and undermine our system of government. Just days ago, DOJ announced more Russian nationals have been charged w/ attempting to interfere with the 2016 election. This is not a country that can be trusted.

Bob Goodlatte


U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed Russia’s actions, and the evidence is plentiful. Today’s summit in Helsinki was an opportunity to forcefully address this growing threat directly with President Putin. I am dismayed that we did not see that.

John O. Brennan


Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

Rep. Carlos Curbelo


Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election is fact. It is unacceptable that an American President not only stood there and said nothing while Vladmir Putin spewed fiction, but also questioned the hard work and findings of American intelligence and law enforcement investigators.

Alex Leary


Reaction rolling in from Florida and it’s mostly critical of Trump for not standing up to Putin. Said @RepCurbelo, “The president’s comments in Helsinki were deeply alarming.”  @TB_Times