Extract from The Guardian
Donald Trump drew mostly bipartisan condemnation after failing to denounce Russian meddling in the US presidential election at a joint press conference with Vladimir Putin.
The two presidents met in Helsinki for their first summit just days after the US justice department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in a concerted effort to help lift Trump to power.
Many Democrats reacted with shock as some party lawmakers panned Trump’s performance as “unprecedented” and destructive to America’s standing on the world stage.
“In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous and weak. The president is putting himself over our country.”
John Brennan, the CIA director under Barack Obama, said Trump’s conduct was “nothing short of treasonous” and called on Republicans to condemn his behavior.
“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???” he tweeted.
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???
Arizona senator John McCain angrily denounced Trump and called the press conference a “pathetic rout” and “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.
"It is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake ... No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant"
Others joined in. “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,” wrote Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican of Arizona who is retiring this year after high-profile clashes with Trump. “This is shameful.”
In a thread on Twitter, Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, who plays both Trump ally and critic, called it a “bad day for the US” and repeated the conclusion that Russia meddled in the US presidential election.
“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.
“The American people deserve the truth, & to disregard the legitimacy of our intelligence officials is a disservice to the men & women who serve this country,” said Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger. “It’s time to wake up & face reality. #Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom.”
Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, said Trump’s comments that “both countries” were responsible for the deterioration in US-Russia relations is “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.”
But there were also other Republican voices adding to the chorus of criticism who usually shy away from taking on Trump. One was House speaker Paul Ryan, who said there was “no question” that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” he added.
Fox News presenter Abby Huntsman, the daughter of US ambassador to Russia Jon Hunstman, said on Twitter: “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”