18 July, 2018
All three members of Fox News' prime-time lineup - Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity - also went to bat for Trump on Monday night, giving the president a little more wiggle room to cherry-pick from favorable responses to his "Russia first" policies amid the continuing onslaught of criticism.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC, a golfing partner of the president, called the event a "missed opportunity" for Trump "to firmly hold Russian Federation accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections".
Mark Simakovsky, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center in Washington DC, told Al Jazeera that the summit in Helsinki has damaged Trump's credibility.
It was an extraordinary press conference closing out the Trump-Putin summit, in which the American president delivered what amounted to a warm embrace to the man who for years has been isolated by the USA and Western allies for Russia's activities in Ukraine, Syria and beyond. "HRC is here in Helsinki to demand Donald Trump end his deafening silence, publicly condemn these Chechen crimes against humanity, and call on Putin to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice". Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.
Observers across the board acknowledged that Trump's performance was a stunning display of supplication to the authoritarian leader.
And Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, tweeted: 'What do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically?'
Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as the Trump's White House communications director past year, told CNN, "Trump's made a very big mistake here".
Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump's answer on meddling "will be seen by Russian Federation as a sign of weakness". All are nervously watching Twitter to see if the President attempts further cleanup beyond his tweet after the event Monday when he said he has "GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people".
Schumer also urged the Senate to take up legislation to boost security for US elections and to revive a measure passed earlier by the Judiciary Committee to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference.
"The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why I wouldn't, or why it wouldn't be Russia" instead of "why it would", Trump said, in a rare admission of error by the bombastic USA leader.
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Afterward, Trump's national intelligence director, Dan Coats, restated the consensus of USA intelligence: "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".
"I had to repeat what I have already said many times before - the Russian state has never interfered and is not planning to interfere in the USA's internal affairs", Putin said.
He also said FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, former FBI director James Comey and former deputy director Andrew McCabe, all targets of Republican fire over the Russian Federation investigation, were "bad people, and they're being exposed for what they are".
Trump praised one of few Republicans to defend his presser performance, thanking Rand Paul for noting, "The President has gone through a year and a half of through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations - what's he supposed to think?" His proposal to trade access to Russians accused of hacking in return for Russian investigators engaging in investigations of Kremlin critics was "an incredible offer", according to Trump.
"I would guess he's having caviar right now", said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Brennan expressed total disbelief at Trump's news conference.
They are said to have done so after planting codes in the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's computers. So it was incredible and very, very disturbing, ' Clapper said Monday on CNN.
ELECTION SECURITY Schumer also called for the immediate passage of legislation to enhance election security, and reiterated calls for the Senate to hold immediate hearings to get testimony from Trump's national security team about what transpired during the private Trump-Putin meeting "so we can find out what the heck happened there".
Cornyn suggested sanctions legislation as an alternative to plans for a resolution supporting the intelligence community's findings that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election.