Trump refused to condemn the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as determined by the United States intelligence community. Instead, he said “we’re all to blame” for deteriorated relations between the two countries.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the press conference a “missed opportunity” for Trump to hold Russia accountable for the attempted election interference.
Trump’s refusal to call out Russia “will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves,” Graham tweeted.
Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves. (1/3)
It is imperative that Congress hold hearings on the extent and scope of any cooperation with Russia in Syria regarding Iran’s presence.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
Finally, if it were me, I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said succinctly: “The Russians are not our friends. I’ve said that repeatedly, I say it again today. And I have complete confidence in our intelligence community and the findings that they have announced.” He did not answer questions after his statement at the U.S. Capitol, according to The New York Times.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) urged America to be “clear” and label Russia a “foe” following the roughly 40-minute press conference.
We need to be clear. Russia is our foe. Putin is actively trying to hurt our country. America needs to speak with one voice AGAINST Russia.— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 16, 2018
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) skewered Trump for failing “to defend all that makes us who we are” as Americans.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain said in a statement. “Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) dubbed Trump’s decision to hold both countries responsible for poor U.S.-Russia relations as “bizarre” and “flat-out wrong.”
“The United States is not to blame,” he said in a statement. “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.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Monday defended the intelligence community against Trump’s attempts to once again undermine its credibility by refusing to blame Russia for election meddling.
“From the President on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future election from foreign interference, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says,” Hatch said in a statement.
Strong statement from Orrin Hatch's office on Trump/Putin meeting: pic.twitter.com/Ashf6PioMG— Herb Scribner (@HerbScribner) July 16, 2018
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), an outspoken critic of Trump, echoed his fellow Republican senators. He called the press conference “shameful.”
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.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) July 16, 2018
House Republicans, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), also blasted Trump’s refusal to call out Putin.
“It’s time to wake up & face reality,” Kinzinger tweeted. "#Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom.”
The American people deserve the truth, & to disregard the legitimacy of our intelligence officials is a disservice to the men & women who serve this country. It’s time to wake up & face reality. #Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom.— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 16, 2018
I strongly disagree w/ statement that Russia did not meddle in 2016 election. With all I have seen on House Intel Comm & additional indictments of 12 Russian officers last week, it is clear Russia's intentions. President Trump missed opportunity to hold Putin publicly accountable— Frank LoBiondo (@RepLoBiondo) July 16, 2018
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urged the U.S. to focus on “holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Ryan said in a statement.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) stood by the findings of the U.S. intelligence community and the House Intelligence Committee.
“Russia is not our friend,” Gowdy said in a statement. “It is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing [Trump’s] electoral success.”
Trey Gowdy: "Russia is not our friend. Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election...it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing [Trump's] electoral success." pic.twitter.com/b4sn5qGba4— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) July 16, 2018
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Fox News contributor and frequent Trump cheerleader, ripped the president’s comments in Helsinki as “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”
President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) July 16, 2018
Unsurprisingly, Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also took a hard stance against Trump’s friendly rhetoric toward the United States’ longtime foreign adversary. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted Trump for failing “to stand up to Putin.”
Once again, @realDonaldTrump takes to the international stage to embarrass America, undermine our institutions, weaken our alliances, & embrace a dictator. Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded. Disgraceful.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 16, 2018
Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin. #ABetterDeal— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 16, 2018
.@realDonaldTrump had the opportunity to stand up to Putin. Today, less than 72 hours after DOJ indicted 12 additional Russian officials for attacking the 2016 elections, he blames… both countries. #BlameAmericaFirst#TrumpPutin— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 16, 2018
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.