In an extraordinary embrace of a longtime US enemy, President Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies' firm finding that Russia meddled in the 2016 USA election to his benefit, seeming to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin's insistence that Moscow's hands were clean.
President Donald Trump defended his statements after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, crediting himself with diffusing tension between the two nations while praising his counterpart as "very, very strong".
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, said late on July 16 that Trump was wrong to question once again the conclusions of the U.S. Justice Department and intelligence agencies that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election.
His skepticism drew a quick formal statement - nearly a rebuttal - from Trump's director of national Intelligence, Dan Coats.
"The president must appreciate that Russian Federation is not our ally", said Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. "I don't see any reason why it would be", said the US president.
Senator Susan Collins said Trump's "position is untenable", while Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, also a Republican, outlined Russian aggression on several fronts and said the United States "will not tolerate hostile Russian activities against us or our allies".
Others with less direct roles weighed in as well, to reaffirm their belief that Russian Federation in fact was the agent that meddled in the campaign.
And former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan said Trump's behavior at the news conference "rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous".
"Damn", said Noah. "'The most embarrassing performance by an American president.' Do you know how hard it is to achieve that?
Many Putin actions we condemn were reactions to what we did.
In their totality, Trump's remarks amounted to an unprecedented embrace of a man who for years has been isolated by the USA and Western allies for actions in Ukraine, Syria and beyond.
In a post-summit interview with Fox News, Putin said US-Russia relations should not be held "hostage" to "internal political games", referring to the Mueller probe. Asked if Russian Federation was at all to blame for the poor ties, he said: "I hold both countries responsible".
The only Republican in the U.S. House of representatives to respond to 12 News was Rep. Martha McSally.
When pressed by Wallace about the hacking, Putin later went on to say: "Listen to me, please: The information that I am aware of, there is nothing false about it, every single grain of it is true".
"Donald Trump'spress conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous".
Mr Trump's warm words for Russian Federation were a marked contrast from the past week when he repeatedly rebuked traditional United States allies at a summit of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and during a visit to Britain.
Kerry said that Trump's behavior was indicative of a larger set of problems.
Trump also dismissed the idea in his interview with Hannity, adding, "If they had it, it would have been out".
We will set aside Putin's lie that Trump had never mentioned his political ambitions - it having been one of Trump's favorite topics for years and years.
It also comes less than four months before the midterm elections, and sends a message that there is little price to be paid to any foreign government that interferes with the United States election - as long as its leaders publicly deny they did so.
Trump will meet with members of Congress on Tuesday, the White House said without giving further details. We need to continue to deal with Russian Federation from a position of strength.
In his own interview with Fox, Trump said he was "fascinated" by an offer from Putin for USA agents to indirectly grill the indicted Russians by submitting their questions to Russian officials but said Mueller's team "probably won't want to go" to Moscow.
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