Trump Supports Russia against FBI at Helsinki summit: Mr. Putin reiterated that Russia had never interfered in US affairs.
The two men held almost two hours of closed-door talks in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Monday.
At a news conference – following the summit, President Trump was asked if he considered his intelligence agencies or the president when it came to the allegations of meddling in the elections.
“President Putin says it is not Russia. I don’t find any reason why it would be,” he replied.
Trump Supports Russia against FBI at Helsinki summit
US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 which Russia was supporting an effort to tip the scale of the US election against Hillary Clinton, using a state-authorized attempt of cyber attacks and bogus news reports planted on social media.
What has US reaction been?
In a strongly-worded statement, US House Speaker Paul Ryan stated Mr. Trump” must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
“There is no moral equivalence between the USA and Russia, which remains hostile to our most fundamental values and ideals,” he stated, adding that there was”no query” Moscow had interfered in the 2016 election.
Senior Republican Senator John McCain said it had been a”disgraceful performance” by a US president.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly in front of a tyrant,” Mr. McCain said in a statement.
Another senior Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a part of the Senate Armed Services Committee, tweeted that it was a”missed opportunity… to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling”.
In a succession of tweets,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer stated Mr. Trump’s actions had”strengthened our adversaries while weakening our defenses and those of our allies.”
The US Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, also issued a statement stating that the intelligence community had been apparent about Russia’s”continuing, pervasive attempts” to sabotage US democracy.
Mr. Trump responded by tweeting that he had”great confidence in my intelligence people,” adding:”I also recognize that to construct a brighter future, we cannot exclusively concentrate on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get together.”
Vice-President Mike Pence, at a speech at the US Department of Commerce, defended the summit and commended President Trump.
Talking on Monday, President Putin offered to allow US researchers to visit Russia to question the officers.
He made it crystal clear that in return, Russia would need similar accessibility to individuals in the US it suspects of criminal activity.
Mr. Putin explained the Helsinki meeting as”blunt and useful” while Mr. Trump said that there was”deeply successful dialogue.”
Mr. Trump said US-Russia relations had”never been more demanding” than before they met, but had now changed.
Relations between Russia and the West were severely strained by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, which President Putin acknowledged from the press conference.
“President Trump’s standing on Crimea is well-known. He speaks about the illegality of the Crimean reintegration to Russia. We’ve got another point of view… that a referendum has been held in line with the law. For all of us, it is a closed question,” he explained.
Both leaders also said they would work together to help solve the Syrian catastrophe. The US and Russia back opposing sides in the eight-year-old civil war.
On a lighter note, Mr. Trump congratulated President Putin on the successful staging of the World Cup football tournament in Russia and Mr. Putin reacted by giving the US leader a tournament football.
The US will co-host the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.