It is outrageous, dangerous and ridiculous for an American president to take Putin’s word over the US intelligence community. No American should defend it.
- Republicans blasted President Donald Trump for his remarks at a press conference Monday alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Republicans said Trump's performance was "shameful," "an absolute disgrace," and "moronic."
Republicans blasted President Donald Trump for his performance during a press conference Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
The press conference, which followed an hours-long private meeting between Trump and Putin, featured the president casting doubt over the US intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. He also attacked his Democratic opponents and the FBI, and said he holds both countries accountable for their state of relations while asked about the election meddling.
"My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, some others, they said they think it's Russia," Trump said, referring to the Director of National Intelligence. "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."
Some Republicans responded to Trump's remarks within moments of the press conference ending.
- Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a statement calling Trump's comment that both countries are responsible for the state of US-Russia relations "bizarre and flat-out wrong."
- "The United States is not to blame," Sasse said. "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."
- Republican Rep. Justin Amash tweeted of the press conference that someone can be in favor of improved relations with Russia and with Trump meeting Putin "and still think something is not right here."
- Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a golfing partner of the president, called the event a "missed opportunity" for Trump "to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections."
- He later added that he would advise Trump to "check the soccer ball" Putin gave him at the press conference "for listening devices and never allow it in the White House."
- Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has frequently sparred with the president, tweeted that the remarks were "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," he wrote. "This is shameful."
- Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a close Trump ally, said in a statement that "Russia interfered in the 2016 election."
- "Our nation’s top intelligence agencies all agree on that point," he said. "From the President on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence and interference, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says."
Other Republicans called Trump's remarks "outrageous," "an absolute disgrace," and "moronic." A former chairman of the Republican National Committee even said Trump was acting like he was an "asset" next to his "handler."