Tuesday, 17 July 2018

U.S. lawmakers slam Trump as 'weak,' 'cowardly' in summit with Putin

Extract from Reuters

July 17, 2018 / 2:32 AM / Updated 21 minutes ago

Trump, speaking in Helsinki after his first summit with Putin, said he saw no reason to believe his own country’s intelligence agencies over the Kremlin leader’s assurances that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election.
A wave of condemnation immediately followed, with lawmakers calling Republican Trump “weak” and “cowardly,” while Senator John McCain said the summit was “a tragic mistake.” The war hero and former Republican presidential nominee, a frequent critic of the president, said Trump “failed to defend all that makes us who we are - a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”
On Friday, a U.S. special counsel announced indictments of 12 Russian spies on charges of hacking Democratic Party computer networks as part of the election meddling, the second set of charges against Russians in an investigation that Trump calls a political witch hunt.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a Republican and a Trump appointee, in an unusual statement responding to Trump’s remarks, stood by the U.S. agencies.
“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy,” Coats said.
On his way home, Trump insisted in a post on Twitter that he has “GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.”

Relations between Washington and Moscow have been at their lowest point in the post-Cold War era and Trump had touted the summit as a chance to reduce tensions. Even before the allegations of Russian meddling, tensions were high over Moscow’s concerns about NATO expansion, Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and its military backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in 2015.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, said Russia undoubtedly interfered in the 2016 election.
“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals,” said Ryan in a statement.
Putin was re-elected in a disputed election in March with the main opposition leader Alexei Navalny barred from running on what he says was a pretext.  

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