Trump Defends Himself Against Sharp Criticism Over Putin News Conference

ABC NewsSen. Jeff Flake appears on

In the joint press conference following the Helsinki meeting, a reporter observed that Mr. Putin had once again denied what every USA intelligence agency affirms: that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election.

Trump, who had the opportunity to publicly rebuke Putin during the news conference in Helsinki, instead praised the Russian leader for his "strong and powerful" denial of the conclusions of USA intelligence agencies that the Russian state meddled in the election.

Signalling Republicans' own efforts at damage control in the wake of Trump's Helsinki performance, McConnell said there might be a vote on a bill sponsored by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, that would create punishments if Russian Federation interferes in the 2018 midterm elections.

Several Republicans said they would consider new legislation to sanction Russian Federation for future election meddling, after Trump declined an opportunity Monday to publicly warn Putin against such interference.

"The sentence should've been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russian Federation, ' sort of a double negative", Trump added.

"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".

The White House said Trump would address the summit to reporters ahead of an otherwise unrelated 2 p.m. ET meeting with lawmakers at the White House. "Vladimir Putin does not share our values".

"I have to say, I came back and I said".

As the bipartisan sentiment gained traction, White House aides reportedly hoped it would sway Trump and convince him to deviate from his stance, according to The New York Times.




"You know, Russian Federation and the United States control 90% of the nuclear weapons in the world and getting along with Russian Federation - and not only for that reason - it's a good thing, not a bad thing", he said.

Earlier in the day, Trump said on Twitter that the meeting between the two world leaders went "better than even expected".

He also promised that "we're doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018" elections.

"Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it!'" the President tweeted.

John McCain, the senior Republican senator, said Trump's seeming acceptance of Putin's denial was a historical "low point" for the U.S. presidency. "The damage inflicted by President Trump's naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is hard to calculate".

Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.

Despite clear interest in Russia in Putin's meeting with Trump, the summit wasn't the No. 1 item on many Russian newscasts or websites on Monday morning.

Trump, in opening remarks, said that U.S. -Russia relations had been at their lowest point until the two sat down face-to-face in a highly-anticipated summit. Mr. Trump faces no effective challenge from his party's once-dominant internationalist wing.

Immediately after his news conference, Trump's mood was buoyant, people familiar with the matter said. In practice, the overwhelming majority of Democrats and close to 20 Republican senators would have to vote to convict President Trump, an equation that will barely change after the midterms because Republicans are expected to retain their majority in the upper chamber.

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