President Donald J. Trump faced bipartisan condemnation after he commented on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election at a joint press briefing in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.
“I think that the — the [collusion] probe [by Robert Mueller] is a disaster for our country,” Trump said, alleging that it was to blame for the declining relationship between Russia and the United States. “I hold both countries responsible,” he said. “I think that the United States has been foolish.”
At the joint briefing, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the cooperation of American and Russian law enforcement to complete the Special Counsel investigation. The cooperation would consist of Russian officials questioning people of interest to the Mueller probe in Russia, with or without the presence of American law enforcement.
The Special Council told The Globe Post it would not comment on the proposal.
Russian President Putin denied interfering in the U.S. election. He explained that he wanted Trump to win “because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”
The U.S. intelligence community stood by its assessment that the Russian government did interfere in the presidential election.
“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats persisted in a press release.
Leaders from both sides of the aisle expressed disappointment at Trump’s decision to attack the intelligence community instead of condemning Russia’s role in meddling in America’s democratic process.
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” House Speaker Paul Ryan explained in a press release. “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.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren also expressed outrage to reporters in Boston.
“For the President of the United States to stand next to Vladimir Putin…and side with Putin over America’s military and intelligence leaders is a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” she said.
Sen. Flake: "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."
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 16, 2018
Senator Marco Rubio shared his discontent on Twitter, saying that “Foreign policy must be based on reality, not hyperbole or wishful thinking. And the reality is Russia is an adversary. Because Putin doesn’t believe in win/win scenarios & thinks only way to make Russia stronger is to make U.S. weaker.”
Senator John McCain also derided the President’s performance, saying it was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” and “a tragic mistake.”
Senator Bob Corker commented to members of the press, saying he believed Putin benefited “a tremendous amount” from the approval of an American president. “I would guess he’s having caviar right now,” Corker scoffed.
Trump defended himself on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
“As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people,’” he explained. “However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past.”