TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Despite calls from both sides of the isle to be as tough as possible to Putin during the meeting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, Trump took a soft line and tried his best to avoid upsetting the Russian leader.
Trump even refused to raise the issue of Russia’s alleged election hacking activities and when pressed, said the both sides were to blame for the current state of ties between Washington and Moscow and the US had been “very stupid” in the past.
The remarks did not go down well with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who said Trump’s joint press conference with Putin after their meeting was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
The 81-year-old ailing senator, who has often criticized the president, said in a statement that he found it “painful and inexplicable” how Trump’s foreign policy team could allow such “blunders and capitulations.”
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” he fumed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has in the past criticized Trump for drawing moral equivalence between American and Russian policies, warned that Washington should never trust the Kremlin.
“I have said a number of times, I’ll say it again: The Russians are not our friends,” McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, told the press. “And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.”
The US intelligence community has long concluded that Moscow did interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, which saw Trump easily defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to the office.
Despite himself being under investigation for alleged “collusion” with Russia, Trump on Monday called the investigations a witch hunt and said it was just hurting US-Russia ties.
Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, also voiced his concerns, warning that Russia “remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” he said. “The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
Other GOP lawmakers such as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and even some of Trump’s staunchest congressional allies like Senators Thom Tillis and Orrin Hatch, also criticized the meeting.