Republican politicians and commentators rebuke Trump's defense of his meeting with Vladimir Putin

By Diane Herbst
July 16, 2018 06:30 PM
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After Donald Trump accepted Russian President Vladmir Putin‘s denial of interfering in the 2016 presidential election—despite the findings of Trump’s own U.S. intelligence agencies that Putin’s forces launched a cyber attack on the U.S. with the intent of disrupting the election—even the president’s usual supporters lambasted him.

At Fox News, which tends to broadcast Trump-friendly opinion shows, analyst Brit Hume tweeted that when Trump was asked about who he believes on Russian interference, Trump’s “vague and rambling non-answer, with renewed complaints about Hillary’s server” was a “lame response, to say the least.”

Fox News’ chief political anchor Bret Baier tweeted that he thought the press conference was “surreal.”

Guy Benson, a Fox News contributor, called Trump’s answer on whether he believed U.S. intelligence or Putin “atrocious.”

He also tweeted that Trump’s support of support of Putin is “rooted in an embarrassing, juvenile, insecure, consuming obsession over his own legitimacy.”

“Easily one of his worst days as president,” he wrote. “And again, juxtapose that performance with how he just treated our European & North American allies.”

Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto called Trump’s news conference — during which he never criticized Putin — “disgusting,” adding that “It’s not a right or left thing. It’s just wrong.”

Even Fox and Friends anchor Abby Huntsman was piqued, tweeting: “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”

Top Republicans in Congress, known not to criticize Trump — at least publicly — are also slamming him.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, issued a press release contradicting Trump, saying “there is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

“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.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and daughter of the arch-conservative former Vice President Dick Cheney, says she is “deeply troubled” by how Trump sided with Putin.

“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia,” she tweeted. “Russia poses a grave threat to our national security.”

Senator Lindsay Graham Tweeted that Trump should check the soccer ball which Putin gave at their meeting for “listening devices.”

He also wrote: “Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.”

Senator John McCain said in a powerful statement that today’s press conference in Helsinki was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” McCain said. “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.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan took the criticism even further, writing on Twitter that Trump’s performance at the Helsinki press conference “rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

And Brennan, who served in the administrations of both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, had a simple, urgent question to GOP lawmakers and media influencers who were also troubled on Monday: “Republican Patriots: Where are you???”