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Shock as Trump backs Putin on election meddling at summit

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Shock as Trump backs Putin on election meddling at summit

By Jeff Mason and Denis Pinchuk

 

2018-07-16T171852Z_1_LYNXMPEE6F1P6_RTROPTP_4_USA-RUSSIA-SUMMIT.JPG

U.S. President Trump and Russian President Putin hold a joint news conference. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

 

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Standing side-by-side with Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday refused to blame the Russian leader for meddling in the U.S. 2016 election, casting doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and sparking a storm of criticism at home.

 

On a day when he faced pressure from critics, allied countries and even his own staff to take a tough line, Trump spoke not a single disparaging word in public about Moscow on any of the issues that have brought relations between the two powers to the lowest ebb since the Cold War.

 

Instead, he denounced the "stupidity" of his own country's policy, especially the decision to investigate election interference following the conclusions drawn by U.S. intelligence agencies. A prosecutor announced an indictment three days ago of Russian spies for hacking into Democratic Party networks.

 

Trump's handling of a joint news conference in Helsinki stirred a wave of condemnation in the United States, where the White House has struggled for months to dispel a suggestion that Trump was unwilling to stand up to Putin.

 

His performance was denounced as "treasonous" by a former CIA chief and U.S. Senator John McCain called meeting with Putin a "tragic mistake," although some other Republicans were more cautious.

 

Asked if he believed U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in an effort to help him defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he said he was not convinced.

 

"I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia, Trump said. "President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."

 

In one response, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a Trump nominee approved by Congress, said in a statement, "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."

 

Hours after the Helsinki summit, Trump tweeted, "I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people."

 

FOOLISHNESS AND STUPIDITY

 

Before the summit even began, Trump blamed his own country for the deterioration in relations.

 

"Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!" he said on Twitter.

 

The Russian foreign ministry tweeted back: "We agree".

 

At the news conference, Trump was invited by reporters to offer any criticism of Russia but he repeatedly declined. Asked if Russia was at all to blame for the poor ties, he said, "I hold both countries responsible. I think the U.S. has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish," he said, before veering into discussion about his election victory.

 

"I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her ... we won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it," he said.

 

Trump's warm words for Russia were a marked contrast from the past week when he repeatedly rebuked traditional U.S. allies at a summit of NATO and during a visit to Britain.

 

Asked if Putin was an adversary, he said, "Actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is and I think the word competitor is a compliment."

 

Trump also refrained from publicly criticizing Russia's 2014 seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region, another geopolitical win for Putin against Western efforts to isolate him.

 

Putin spoke of the importance of the two countries working together and praised Trump, at one point interrupting the news conference to give the U.S. president a soccer ball.

 

Asked whether he had wanted Trump to win the 2016 election and had instructed officials to help him, Putin said, "Yes I did," although he denied any interference, saying the allegations were "complete nonsense."

 

Putin suggested U.S. investigators could possibly travel to Russia to participate in questioning Russians accused by Washington of U.S. election meddling as long as Russian investigators would be allowed to do the same with U.S. spies operating in Russia, an idea Trump's critics dismissed as ludicrous.

 

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump's performance would send a message of "weakness" to Moscow.

 

"Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections. This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves," Graham said on Twitter.

 

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic, said, "I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful."

 

The Republican head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said Trump's comments at the joint news conference made the United States look like a "pushover."

 

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top congressional Republican, took a more tempered approach but insisted that Trump "must appreciate that Russia is not our ally."

 

'TREASONOUS'

 

Former CIA chief John Brennan went further, suggesting Trump should be removed from office. Brennan tweeted, "Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanours.' 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???"

 

Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter, "Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behaviour & his refusal to stand up to Putin."

 

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for a bipartisan effort to "ratchet up" sanctions on Moscow.

 

The summit capped a trip abroad during which Trump accused NATO allies of failing to spend enough on their militaries and embarrassed British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying she refused to take his advice about how to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU. He referred to the European Union itself as a "foe" in trade and repeatedly criticised it.

 

In some of the strongest words yet reflecting the unease of Washington's traditional allies, Germany's foreign minister said on Monday that Europe could no longer rely on the United States.

 

"To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it," Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group. "The first clear consequence can only be that we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe."

 

(Additonal reporting by Steve Holland, Jussi Rosendahl and Andrew Osborn in Helsinki, Christian Lowe and Polina Devitt in Moscow, David Alexander, Arshad Mohammed, Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker, Jonathan Landay, Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Peter Graff and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Grant McCool, Toni Reinhold)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-17
 

 

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Trump is a disgrace. 

 

Nothing more than Putin’s lapdog. 

 

 

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well, if trump no longer believes his own security institutions, then he should immediately ask for a Russian passport.

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3 minutes ago, tomacht8 said:

well, if trump no longer believes his own security institutions, then he should immediately ask for a Russian passport.

He's a traitor. 
Any American STILL defending him now needs their head examined.

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putin is a highly trained intelligence officer also a highly intelligent person,whats trump a tv personality no contest.

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It's mainstream now.

"trump" is probably compromised by Putin.

Putin's poodle is a thing and it's going to STICK because it is true.

There there is the charge of treason.

Not from some street protester.

From the former CIA director and other very credible people --

 

John O. Brennan

FORMER CIA DIRECTOR

Quote

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???

 

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I truly believed that Trump would go to the meeting and practice his hind-lick maneuver on Putin, but he out did my predictions by performing a full BBBJ on Putin right there on the stage and I imagine that Putin is still having orgasms after returning to Moscow! Unbelievable!

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1 minute ago, wayned said:

I truly believed that Trump would go to the meeting and practice his hind-lick maneuver on Putin, but he out did my predictions by performing a full BBBJ on Putin right there on the stage and I imagine that Putin is still having orgasms after returning to Moscow! Unbelievable!

Yes, this has perhaps been the best week ever of Putin's political life. "trump" is "trump" but he has shamed, embarrassed, humiliated, damaged, and degraded the presidency and the USA to a similarly historic degree.

America First, my tuchus. Putin first more like. 

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Just for a chuckle, it would be interesting to hear from any "trump" fans on how they are going to defend the traitor president. Oh, my 401k is up so I don't care! But Hillary! Is there anything the orange con man can do that would shake some sense into his fans? So far, no. 

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So now it becomes crystal clear:

 

With the help of Russian election tampering, Americans elected a treasonous traitor as president.

 

It's a sad sad day for America.

 

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His hardcore fans are too stupid to care, nobody in his right mind would think this is a good situation.

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5 minutes ago, Singhsuea said:

He's under control, if the U.S. can't get him back onside, how on Earth can anybody trust them?

They can't.

Traditional allies can't.

Best case we can check him in the midterms / impeach / dump him in 2020.

Worst case he cons his way into two terms. Apocalyptic. 

People need to wake.

America is being tested. The last big test was World War 2.

Dealing with a con man demagogue anti-democracy pro-dictatorship enemy compromised president is the current test. 

No guarantee of passing that test. 

 

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McCain's reaction to Trump's joint press conference with Putin

 

"“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake,” McCain said in a statement. “President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.”  "

http://time.com/5339932/john-mccain-statement-trump-putin-meeting/

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