Trump beholden to Putin? Summit does nothing to dispel impression

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki Finland Monday

Trump beholden to Putin? Summit does nothing to dispel impression

US President Donald Trump has held a remarkable press conference saying he sees no reason why Russian Federation would have interfered in the 2016 election.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday voiced their satisfaction with their first one-on-one meeting here, though acknowledged problems remain.

The special counsel investigating potential co-ordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin charged a dozen Russian military intelligence officers on Friday with hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign and then releasing the stolen communications online as part of a sweeping conspiracy to meddle in the election.

In a lengthy statement, he called the summit, which took place between the Trump and Putin at Finland's presidential palace Monday in Helsinki, a "tragic mistake" - and said that dismissing the news conference that followed as a "pathetic rout" of a political novice was too generous.

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018.

Trump's comments, and in particular his seeming acceptance of Putin's denial that Russian Federation had meddled in the 2016 presidential election, has sparked a furious backlash in the USA, with senators from both parties condemning that assertion and Trump's performance generally as betrayal and a capitulation to Putin.

Coats slammed the president's doubts on Moscow's role in the presidential contest and said it was clear Russian Federation was 'meddling'. There is simply no comparing the actions of the United States and Vladimir Putin. Trump effectively sided with Putin over the conclusions offered by officials in his own administration.

"A productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and good for Russian Federation, but it is good for the world", he said. "I am also hopeful President Trump discussed Russia's role in the Balkans, as Iowa's sister state, Kosovo, continues to be threatened by Russia's hybrid warfare tactics in Serbia".

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James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence from 2010 to 2017, called Trump's performance "an incredible capitulation". But he told reporters that "as to who is to be believed and who is not to be believed, you can trust no-one".

Last week, United States authorities indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential vote.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

"I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia]", Trump said.

"I think that we're all to blame", Trump said. Trump leaned forward in his chair, his hands tented in front of him and frequently glanced over at the Russian president. And John Brennan, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center under former president George W. Bush and Central Intelligence Agency director under former president Barack Obama, said it amounted to an impeachable act. Putin, who has been staring down American presidents since he rose to power in 2000, dismissed Trump's concerns about Russia's annexation of Crimea and gave vague promises to hold a dialogue about Syria and nuclear weapons.

The summit, which is being closely watched around the world, was not the first time Mr Trump and Mr Putin have held talks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also criticized Trump for his behavior at the press conference and even questioned if Putin could be blackmailing Trump with "damaging information".

It was a "bad day" for the United States, Graham said, "that "can (and) must be fixed".

Although the two leaders took only a few questions from journalists, both presidents passed up opportunities to provide direct answers to pointed queries.

Relations between Russian Federation and the West were severely strained by Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014, which President Putin acknowledged in the news conference. Americans have been more likely than not to be troubled by the way the White House deals with the country, but the concerns haven't been growing.

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