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Trump Slammed as 'Treasonous,' 'Disgraceful'

Even allies dismayed by Putin remarks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2018 1:44 AM CDT
Trump Widely Condemned for 'Disgraceful' Russia Comments
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, looks over towards President Trump as Trump speaks during their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – President Trump is getting what could be the worst press of his presidency after a press conference with Vladimir Putin that is widely being described as disgraceful. Trump, standing alongside the Russian leader after their summit in Helsinki, rejected the finding of American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and indicated that he believed Putin's claim that there was no interference. Trump allies were among those criticizing his remarks, with Newt Gingrich urging him to immediately correct the "most serious mistake of his presidency." A roundup of other reactions:

  • Disgraceful. "Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory," Sen. John McCain said in a statement. "The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake." No prior president, McCain said, "has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant."

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  • A Russian triumph. Trump's remarks handed Putin an "unalloyed diplomatic triumph," according to the Washington Post, which notes that Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was "snickering with exuberance" as he watched the press conference.
  • "Shocking reality." The president of the United States "trusts the word of a former KGB agent over the consensus of the American intelligence community backed by a ton of facts," tweeted Dan Rather. "That is a shocking reality. Everyone who excuses Trump’s behavior must answer that now, and when history inevitably judges."
  • Putin's dream summit. The Helsinki meeting appears to have been the summit Putin "was waiting for his entire life," Brookings Institution Russia expert Alina Polyakov tells the Atlantic. "I think he completely set the agenda at the summit," she says. "It was telling that the US president did not mention Ukraine or Crimea once. The US president also didn’t mention US sanctions and basically let the Russian president set the agenda on Syria and other items as well."

  • Strong words from Paul Ryan. "There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals," the House speaker said, per the BBC, adding that there was "no question" that Russia had interfered in the election.
  • "Nothing short of treasonous." Trump' s performance "rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors,'" tweeted former CIA director John Brennan. "It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin."
  • Putin's lackey? Michelle Goldberg at the New York Times suspects Trump's "slavish and toadying performance" is a sign that he might really be compromised by Russian intelligence. "None of us yet know the exact contours of Trump’s relationship with Russia, whether Putin is his handler, his co-conspirator, or just his hero," she writes. "But it’s clear that Trump is willing to sell out American democracy for personal gain."

  • Fox hosts stunned. Some Fox hosts joined in the criticism of Trump, with anchor Neil Cavuto calling it a "disgusting" display and Trish Regan calling it "horrible," the Daily Beast reports. Sean Hannity, however, told Trump Monday night that his performance had been "very strong."
  • "Putin is not our friend." Among the intelligence officials disputing Trump's remarks was Republican Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, NPR reports. Burr said there was no reason to doubt intelligence agencies' conclusions on Russian election interference. "Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been. Nor does he want to be our friend," he added. "We must make clear that the United States will not tolerate hostile Russian activities."
  • Calls to protect Mueller. Democrats not only denounced Trump's remarks, they said they were justification for legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, Rolling Stone reports. "The primary role of any president is to protect and defend the United States and, given the opportunity, to confront and warn Putin, we sided with Putin," said Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
(Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)

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