Trump Faces Wide Rebuke for Siding with Putin Over US Intelligence
U.S. President Donald Trump faced a wave of condemnation Tuesday, the day after he sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election rather than the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia had interfered.
A wide array of Republican and Democratic lawmakers condemned Trump's stance, calling it embarrassing, a disgrace and shameful. Late-night comics on U.S. television skewered Trump for failing to stand up to his "boss" Putin in their face-to-face summit in Helsinki.
A Washington Post editorial headline said, "Trump just colluded with Russia. Openly," while The New York Times asked, "Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America? The president lays himself at Vladimir Putin’s feet." The tabloid New York Post front-page headline said, "See No Evil: Prez gives big Bear hug to wicked BFF Vlad, jabs US intel."
The Washington Post editorial said, "In Helsinki, Mr. Trump again insisted 'there was no collusion' with Russia. Yet in refusing to acknowledge the plain facts about Russia’s behavior, while trashing his own country’s justice system, Mr. Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power."
In its assessment, the Times editorial said "it remains a mystery why the president, unlike any of his Republican or Democratic predecessors, is unwilling to call out Russian perfidy. He has no trouble throwing his weight around when he is in the company of America’s European allies, attacking them as deadbeats and the European Union as a 'foe,' or when he excoriates the news media as 'enemies of the people.' Put him next to Mr. Putin and other dictators, and he turns to putty."
"All that’s clear is that a president who is way out of his depth is getting America into deep trouble," the editorial concluded.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was one of the few Republican colleagues of Trump who came to his defense, saying, “The President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations — what’s he supposed to think?”
Trump thanked Paul in a Twitter comment Tuesday.
In another tweet, Trump addressed his talks at last week's NATO summit.
Paul told CNN in a Tuesday interview, "Any country that can spy does, and any country that can meddle in foreign elections does. All countries are doing this, but we've elevated this to a higher degree, and we've made this all about the sour grapes of Hillary Clinton losing the election, and it's all about partisan politics now. This is truly the Trump derangement syndrome that motivates all of this."
As criticism mounted in the hours after his comments at a news conference alongside Putin echoed throughout the world, Trump defended himself with tweets as he flew back to Washington.
He added, "I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. A productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and good for Russia, but it is good for the world."
Some political commentators and Democratic critics of Trump called on his key national security aides to quit in the face of the president saying that he had "confidence" in both Putin and the U.S. intelligence community.
"President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today" that Russia had not interfered in the election, Trump said, although the Russian leader said he did want Trump to win the election over Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state.
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, posed a question in a Twitter post.
There was no indication, however, that any of Trump's key aides planned to quit.
Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as the Trump's White House communications director last year, told CNN "Trump's made a very big mistake here. He's got to reverse course immediately."
He added, "If you're loyal to the president — which I happen to be very loyal to the president — loyalty right now requires you to tell the truth and sit with him and explain to him the optics of the situation, why the optics are bad."
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, another Trump supporter, said, "I don't know what the president's mental calculation was in giving Putin a pass. But there's no question in my mind that Putin was responsible" for interfering in the election.
On Monday, Speaker Paul Ryan, the leader of the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, said "the president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on our democracy.”