Reaction pours in after summit
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona tweeted that the president’s press conference was “shameful”, adding that he never thought he’d see a day when the president “would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that there’s “no question” Russia interfered in the U.S. elections, citing the findings of U.S. intelligence community and separate Congressional committee investigations.
“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,” Ryan added.
Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, called the meeting a “missed opportunity to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan meanwhile took a much harsher route, tweeting that the president’s performance in Helsinki was “nothing short of treasonous.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s blame of the U.S. for the deterioration of relations with Russia was “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. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs,” Sasse added.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Bob Mendez of New Jersey called the meeting “disturbing, shameful, jaw-dropping and disgraceful.”
“I am running out of words to describe how despicable it is to see an American President capitulate to a dictator,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Mark Warner, Vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the president’s blame on the U.S. for Russian interference, a “complete disgrace.”
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called it a “sad day for America.” She added that Mr. Trump’s “weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the President, personally, financially or politically.”
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, meanwhile said the president’s refusal to acknlowledge that Putin had a role int he U.S. elections “should alarm us all.”
“The president’s unwillingness to stand up to him and defend our nation is unacceptable and embarrassing,” Nelson added.