Meant no disrespect to Trump, says official

Glen Norman
July 23, 2018

Monday's firestorm erupted when Trump, standing side-by-side with Putin in Helsinki, refused to say he believed that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election, or to publicly condemn it.

As for the Helsinki meeting, "now we have Putin telling the world what was decided", she said, while "we're hearing crickets from the White House; nothing has been put out that contradicts or replaces Putin's agenda".

"You have an individual here who has openly bragged about his ties to Russia and Russians and he's never - I don't think Carter Page has ever said he's a spy - but he has certainly talked about it. There is simply no other way to explain why he would side with this Kremlin former KGB officer rather than his own intelligence agencies". "I know he came back the next day and said something to clean that up".

Despite such publicly aired misgivings about Trump's dealings with Putin, Republicans largely continued to support, or at least condone, the president's insistence that the Mueller investigation is a "witch hunt".

Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said it was "beyond comprehension" that President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington D.C.

Rubio, a Republican who has been critical of Putin's tactics for years, said the president had no choice but to rescind his comments after the Helsinki news conference played out poorly. Will Hurd's (R-TX) op-ed in the New York Times Thursday asserting that Trump had "actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial [of election interference] and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes overseas". He also suggested a moral equivalence between Russian Federation and the United States, and said that the USA was just as much to blame for current poor relations as Russian Federation.

Mr Coats has been under scrutiny since he said he wished Mr Trump had not met one-on-one with the Russian leader and expressed dismay that the president had publicly undermined United States intelligence agencies. "I think he walked away from that a long time ago".

Former presidential candidate and one of Mr Trump's strongest allies Newt Gingrich branded the comments during the meeting with Putin "the most serious mistake of his presidency" and urged the US President to immediately correct himself.

Last week House Democrats tried to subpoena the interpreter, one of the few people to know the contents of Trump's two-hour meeting with Putin. The POTUS, at first, sided with Putin over his own US Intelligence community but walked back his words one day later, claiming he "misspoke" and had no reason to believe Russian Federation wasn't involved.

"There are things to discuss with the Russians, but we should have come into that meeting very well-prepared, pressing our grave concern about Russian interference in our elections", she said.

Whatever Trump's motivation, there is also anxiety in Washington over his strategy of getting closer to Putin, even though most observers understand the necessity of communication between the world's two top nuclear powers at a time of dangerously ruptured ties with Moscow.

"The possibility of a civil war in Nicaragua is real", Rubio said. "There is a direct national security interest for the United States in seeing democracy and stability in Nicaragua".

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