Trump fires back at criticism of Putin press conference
President Trump on Monday sought to quell criticism that he sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the U.S. intelligence community during a joint press conference earlier in the day.
In a tweet sent from Air Force One, Trump reiterated confidence in American intelligence officials, hours after he refused to say if he believes the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
“As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people,'” Trump tweeted while flying back to Washington, D.C.
“However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!” he added.
As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
The tweet came amid broad backlash from media analysts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle regarding Trump’s remarks in Helsinki. But he stopped short of saying whether he thinks Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
During the press conference with Putin, Trump was asked whether he believes his own intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered, or Putin’s denials.
“My people came to me… they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said. “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” Russia, he said.
“But I have confidence in both parties,” he added.
The summit came three days after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian nationals for their alleged roles in hacking the Democratic National Committee.
Putin said Monday that Trump raised the issue of election interference during their one-on-one meeting earlier in the day, but Trump did not press Putin or condemn the election meddling during the televised press conference.
Trump declared before the summit started that U.S. “foolishness” and special counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe were to blame for souring relations between the two countries.
During the press conference, he said he did not collude with Russia in the election. Trump also recounted his victory over Hillary Clinton and called Mueller’s investigation both “ridiculous” and a source of tension between the two countries.
Democrats called Trump’s performance “pathetic” and “disgraceful.”
On the Republican side, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Trump “must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
Trump also used the term “my intelligence,” instead of the United States intelligence, just like “my generals” and “my military,” showing a pattern of his belief they work for him and not for the good of the country.