- Republicans blasted President Donald Trump for his remarks on Monday at a press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Republicans described Trump’s performance as “shameful,” “an absolute disgrace,” and “moronic.”
Republicans blasted President Donald Trump on Monday for his performance during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
At the press conference, which followed an hourslong private meeting between Trump and Putin, Trump cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. He also attacked his Democratic opponents and the FBI, and he said when asked about the election meddling that he held both countries accountable for their state of relations.
“My people came to me – Dan Coats came to me, some others – they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said, referring to the director of national intelligence. “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
He cited Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denials of such interference. And he seemed to endorse a plan Putin proposed that would allow the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to work with Russian investigators to question 12 Russians indicted last week.
Some Republicans responded to Trump’s remarks within moments of the press conference ending:
- Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a statement calling Trump’s comment that both countries were responsible for the state of US-Russia relations “bizarre and flat-out wrong.”
- “The United States is not to blame,” Sasse said. “America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”
- Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted that someone could be in favour of improved relations with Russia and of Trump meeting Putin “and still think something is not right here.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a golfing partner of the president, called the event a “missed opportunity” for Trump “to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.”
- He later added that he would advise Trump to “check the soccer ball” Putin gave him at the press conference “for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”
- Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has frequently sparred with the president, described the remarks as “shameful.”
- “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,” he said. “This is shameful.”
- Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a close Trump ally, said in a statement that “Russia interfered in the 2016 election.”
- “Our nation’s top intelligence agencies all agree on that point,” he said. “From the President on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence and interference, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says.”
- Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, tweeted that she was “deeply troubled by President Trump’s defence of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia.”
- Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has bristled with Trump,said he “did not think this was a good moment for our country.”
- Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who also has not seen eye-to-eye with the president, said the press conference “was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
- Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a statement that “Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election, and sow the seeds of discord among Americans” and that he hoped Trump administration leaders “will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success.”
- House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that “there is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”
- “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Ryan continued. “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
Other Republicans called Trump’s remarks “outrageous,” “an absolute disgrace,” and “moronic.” A former chairman of the Republican National Committee even said Trump was acting as if he were an “asset” next to his “handler.”
It is outrageous, dangerous and ridiculous for an American president to take Putin’s word over the US intelligence community. No American should defend it.
— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) July 16, 2018
This press conference is an absolute disgrace. Trump won't even side with America.
What Trump did today was commit treason. He cannot be supported anymore. He is a clear & present danger to America. Republicans can no longer be quiet.
I won't be quiet. I am done with him.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) July 16, 2018
Just saw the most depressing, disgusting, toadying, weak, moronic, lie-stuffed, and damn near traitorous public hour in the long history of the American Presidency. A dark day. 1/2
— Mike Murphy (@murphymike) July 16, 2018
"My people came to me…they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be."
That's how a press conference sounds when an Asset stands next to his Handler.
— Michael Steele (@MichaelSteele) July 16, 2018
More coverage of the Trump-Putin summit:
- Putin attacks US reporter’s question about Mueller probe and collusion
- Trump says he doesn’t ‘see any reason’ why Russia would have hacked the US election
- Former CIA director says Trump’s press conference with Putin was ‘nothing short of treasonous’
- Anderson Cooper slams Trump-Putin press conference as ‘perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president’
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