President Donald J. Trump (R) held his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The two world leaders met alone for two hours and then held a news conference.
President Trump has been widely criticized for his comments at the meeting; by analysts who thought he was not tough enough in his comments to the Russian President.
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily.”
Byrne stately bluntly, “They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was even more critical of President Trump’s meeting and press conference with Putin in Helsinki.
“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” Sen. 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.”
“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” Sen. McCain continued. “He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world. It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.“
McCain is chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee but has been sidelined recently for most of the last year due to advanced brain cancer.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain stated.
American intelligence sources have claimed that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election. Pres. Putin strongly denied interfering in the 2016 Presidential election.
Pres. Putin said, “The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including election process.”
Pres. Trump appeared to accept Putin’s denial.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said. “Dan Coats [the director of national intelligence] came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) disagreed with that assessment.
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Speaker Ryan said. “That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
Trump continues to deny that his campaign colluded with the Russian government on the campaign. “I didn’t know the President. There was nobody to collude with.”
(Original reporting by Fox News and the Washington Post contributed to this report.)
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.