President Donald Trump previously said his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin might be the “easiest” but it seems he was gravely mistaken.
Trump’s performance on a world stage against Putin has been deemed an embarrassment and his apparent siding with Putin over his own intelligence officials on the case of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections has been termed as “treason.”
In fact, Trump’s meeting with Putin was so disastrous even Republicans have come out in full force to rebuke his statements made in the Helsinki press conference.
House Speaker Paul Ryan backed the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections.
"There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world," said Ryan in a statement. "That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence."
"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. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy,” He added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Russia is not a United States ally but refused to say he would inform Trump of his disapproval.
"I've said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community," he said.
One of Trump’s constant critics, Senator John McCain called the meeting, “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
This John McCain statement on the Trump-Putin summit ???????? “One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president.” pic.twitter.com/GG8SOTyGPf— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonFL) July 16, 2018
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker rebuked Trump in scathing statement, claiming he made the U.S. look like a “pushover.”
"I was very disappointed and saddened with the equivalency that he gave between them (the US intelligence agencies) and what Putin was saying," said Corker.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, issued a statement condemning Trump’s actions on the world stage and his apparent vilification of U.S. intelligence.
"This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression," Sasse said in the statement. "When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs."
He later doubled down on his comments in a tweet.
A better thing, Mr. President, would be to declare: "Russia is the enemy of America and our allies, and we will expose and respond to their continued cyber-attacks against our nation." https://t.co/qNvgGRA58T— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) July 16, 2018
And the criticism over Trump’s press conference and bowing down to Putin kept coming in.
Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, called the meeting a “step back” in a tweet.
Trump’s attempts at equivocating Putin’s denial of the Russian meddling and U.S. intelligence reports did not sit well with many Republican lawmakers.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security.— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) July 16, 2018
Outgoing South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy made it evident in his statement that he did not see Russia as an ally.
"I am confident former CIA Director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, DNI Dan Coats, Ambassador Nikki Haley, FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others 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,” Gowdy said.
A similar stance was taken by Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins.
The Russians were relentless in their efforts to meddle in the 2016 elections, and their efforts are ongoing. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/AMOVi2PrSe— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) July 16, 2018
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, lamented Trump’s “missed opportunity” to hold Russia accountable for meddling in the 2016 elections.
Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves. (1/3)
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, a long standing Trump critic, said Trump’s actions were “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. This is shameful.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) July 16, 2018
Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican and former undercover CIA officer, said Trump was manipulated by Russia.
RT CNN "Rep. Will Hurd, a former CIA officer, says he’s seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people in his career, but never would have thought that “the US President would be one of them.” https://t.co/qQF5ew8dVA pic.twitter.com/7vjcEoaf3K"— John Patrick Burk (@johnpatburk) July 17, 2018
Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger strongly rebuked Trump’s “disregard of the legitimacy” of U.S. intelligence and advise the POTUS to reassess his comments made during the summit.
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. It’s time to wake up & face reality. #Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom.— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 16, 2018
They are OUR intelligence people, and this tactic only leads to a brighter future for #Putin and his Cronies. Mr. President, you need to retract the whole #Helsinki press conference, and reassess your view of allies and enemies. https://t.co/Mu2arECzRu— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 16, 2018
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch also issued a statement backing up the U.S. intelligence agencies.
"Russia interfered in the 2016 election," Hatch said in a statement. "Our nation's top intelligence agencies all agree on that point. 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. I trust the good work of our intelligence and law enforcement personnel who have sworn to protect the United States of America from enemies foreign and domestic."
New Jersey Republican Frank LoBiondo, like many of his fellow lawmakers, condemned the assertion that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 elections.
I strongly disagree w/ statement that Russia did not meddle in 2016 election. With all I have seen on House Intel Comm & additional indictments of 12 Russian officers last week, it is clear Russia's intentions. President Trump missed opportunity to hold Putin publicly accountable— Frank LoBiondo (@RepLoBiondo) July 16, 2018
Republican Party county chair Chris Gagin announced he will resign from his position over “sense of duty” after the POTUS’ comments.
I remain a proud conservative and Republican, but I resigned today as Belmont Co Ohio GOP Chairman. I did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty.— Chris Gagin (@cgagin) July 16, 2018
The President is entitled to GOP party leaders, at all levels, fully committed to his views and agenda. Following today’s press conference with Pres. Putin, as well as certain policy differences, most especially on trade, I could no longer fulfill that duty. Thus, I resigned.— Chris Gagin (@cgagin) July 16, 2018
Trump, on international stage, said he found “no reason” Russia would meddle in the 2016 elections because Putin was very “strong” in his denial. Despite the wide condemnation from fellow Republicans, Trump refused to back down and tried to double on his statement.
As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Thumbnail/ Banner credits: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque