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US lawmakers slam Trump as POTUS backs Russia on US election meddling

18 Juillet 2018

Several prominent Republicans expressed disappointment with the president's performance. But it is in line with his comment in reference to a previous Putin denial that "I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it". He just said it's not Russian Federation.

Many top Republicans remained on the sidelines after the Justice Department on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for election-related hacking.

All the while, Trump praised his electoral success and again denied any collusion with Russia, something Putin was happy to agree with, though the Russian leader did admit to a preference for Trump, who campaigned for better ties with Moscow.

Days before the summit, Coats had spoken publicly of his concerns about cyber threats to US national security and singled out Russian Federation as the most aggressive foreign actor in that arena.

Trump's comments on Monday are fueling questions about whether Coats should continue to serve in his current role as DNI.

"On some questions he sticks to his opinion", Putin added, giving the example of Trump's decision to quit the global nuclear deal with Iran.

But the party's leadership largely avoided any direct criticism of Trump - issuing statement after statement making clear that they believe the intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 election, but often without even mentioning the President of their party, who just undermined that finding with Putin standing right next to him.

"Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russian Federation accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections", Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Twitter.

"I think people who say we shouldn't talk, I think are wrong".

As Mr Putin was speaking, Mr Trump alternated between gazing at the Russian leader, occasionally making eye contact, and looking straight ahead as he tapped his fingers slightly and listened.

Rather than staying quiet, Coats opted to issue a strongly worded statement backing the intelligence assessment that Russian Federation did, in fact, interfere in the election.

In this case, Trump sided with his Russian counterpart by openly questioning his own intelligence agencies' findings that Moscow was behind the 2016 USA elections.

The two leaders appeared relaxed at the Helsinki news conference, smiling on occasion, in contrast to their sombre demeanour at the start of the day.

Trump did not criticize Russia's support for Syrian leader Bashar Assad, whom the USA has called on to step down. He instead said he placed equal weight in the "extremely strong and powerful" denials of the Russian president with the firm conclusions of his own director of national intelligence.

"We are the two great nuclear powers and we have 90 percent of the nuclear and it is not a good thing, that is a bad thing".

When asked why so many of his critics wind up dead, Putin is blaming troubles with crime in Russian Federation and noting the US has struggled, too, citing John F. Kennedy's assassination and clashes between police and civilians. "He is a very qualified person, he knows the material, he listens, he takes in arguments, he keeps his own opinion on some questions", Putin said. "He continued to maintain that it was illegal to annex it".

"They said they think it's Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia", Mr. Trump said. Trump said that Putin strongly denied the claim during their meeting.

Still in the afterglow of hosting the World Cup, Putin pulled out a red-and-white soccer ball and tossed it at Trump, whose country will co-host the 2026 tournament.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said he believes Coats has been honest and firm in his assessments but that at some point officials begin to wonder whether they are still acting as a guardrail or if by staying in government they have become an "enabler and legitimizer".

US lawmakers slam Trump as POTUS backs Russia on US election meddling