In a direct rebuke of US President Donald Trump’s remarks in Helsinki during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday said there was “no question” that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.
In his remarks, Ryan noted that US intelligence agencies and a House panel agreed with that assessment.
“The President must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Ryan said, adding that Russia “remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.” Other key congressional Republicans, along with Democrats and current and former US intelligence chiefs in Washington, expressed shock that Trump refused to publicly condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election or warn against future US election meddling during Trump’s joint press conference with Putin in Finland.
Trump appeared to take Putin’s word in the Russian president’s denial of interference, while describing the US Justice Department special counsel’s probe of Russian meddling in the US election as a “disaster.” The investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, unveiled a detailed indictment Friday against 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.
At the joint appearance in Finland with Putin, Trump repeated the Russian leader’s denials about involvement in that election.
“He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said of Putin. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released a statement that said, “The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the President and policymakers. We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.” Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who has been a close Trump ally in recent months, said in a statement, “Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Our nation’s top intelligence agencies all agree on that point. 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.” Senator Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “I think (Putin) gained a tremendous amount. I would guess he’s having caviar right now.” Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona issued a statement that said, “Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are — a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. It is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.” Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted, “For the President to side with Putin over his own intelligence officials and blame the United States for Russia’s attack on our democracy is a complete disgrace.
Source: Kuwait News Agency