Wednesday, 19 June, 2019


After Helsinki, U.S. intel chief defends findings on Russian meddling

Anderson Cooper CREDIT Evan Agostini Invision AP REX Shutterstock
Bennie Garza | 17 July, 2018, 04:58

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was quick to condemn Trump's performance in Helsinki, tweeting: "Just several days ago, 12 Russians were indicted for attacking our democracy". Ben Sasse (Neb.) in reference to Trump's separate assertion that both countries were to blame for their deteriorating relationship.

Trump appeared to accept Putin's denial that Russian Federation had anything to do with the attack on the US political system during the 2016 presidential race.

"I didn't know the president", he said. "It is unfortunate that President Putin refuses to acknowledge these facts".

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump's answer on meddling "will be seen by Russian Federation as a sign of weakness". But after being asked about that by his interviewer, Trump said "certainly I'll be asking about it" although extradition is highly unlikely.

Trump a few times expressed his admiration for Putin - and said he hoped they would get along. I've been asking that for months and months, and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. "But again, this was during the Obama administration", he said.

The Russian foreign ministry responded by liking Trump's tweet and then replying: "We agree".

He added: "There was no collusion at all", referring to Mueller's investigation of ties between Trump's campaign and the Kremlin's activities.

The two leaders finally met at the Finnish presidential palace in Helsinki as the USA president congratulated the latter for hosting the World Cup.

Addressing reporters before the one-on-one meeting, Mr Putin struck a casual pose during Mr Trump's remarks, slouching in his chair with his legs wide and eyes low.

However, Russia denies the allegations, and says it is looking forward to the talks as a vehicle for improving relations. "I hope we have a fantastic relationship", he said in May 2017.

He made it clear that, in return, Russian Federation would want similar access to people in the USA it suspects of criminal activity.

But the indictments risk overshadowing the talks.

John McCain (R), who is being treated for brain cancer in his home state of Arizona, said: "Today's news conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory". This was a reference to emails that showed some DNC officials favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

Democratic California Representative Jimmy Gomez charged: "To side with Putin over USA intelligence is disgusting; to fail to defend the U.S. is on the verge of treason".

The grand jury didn't find that any American knowingly cooperated with Moscow's operations.

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

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican, was openly critical of the president's assessment of Russia's conduct: "There is no question that Russian Federation interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world".

FILE - U.S. Sen.

Mr. Trump seemed to accept Putin's denial of interference, despite the USA intelligence community's conclusion that Russian Federation did in fact meddle in the 2016 election.

Graham quipped that Trump ought to check a soccer ball Putin gave to Trump for listening devices, "and never allow it in the White House".

Trump also made waves when he was asked by CBS in the interview broadcast Sunday to name the U.S.'s "biggest foe globally", and put the European Union at the top of the list. He says Putin should never be believed: "Whatever he tells you, it's not true". Russian Federation was listed as a "foe in certain respects".

Trump has been vague about Crimea.

One possible outcome of the summit is work toward a new nuclear weapons agreement.

Neither leader revealed what was discussed.

Putin, meanwhile, is stepping up efforts to broker a deal for pro-Iranian militias in Syria to withdraw from areas near the border with Israel in favor of government troops. "How about USA ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman?"

Mr Trump responded by tweeting that he had "great confidence in my intelligence people", adding: "I also recognise that in order to build a brighter future, we can not exclusively focus on the past - as the world's two largest nuclear powers, we must get along". "It's very important they meet". Some have suggested it is because Russian Federation has some compromising information on Trump.

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.

Since 2008 there have been 42 such arrests, according to the Kremlin, including 11 previous year.

After a contentious few minutes on the topic of election meddling, Wallace said Putin stated that whoever hacked the Democratic National Committee servers obtained real and true information.

-With assistance from Toluse Olorunnipa and Henry Meyer.

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