Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

DHS chief says 'too soon' to tell impact of Trump-Putin relationship

DHS chief says 'too soon' to tell impact of Trump-Putin relationship

On Monday, Trump appeared to accept Putin's denial of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election at their joint press conference in Helsinki, sparking uproar in Washington.

Mr Trump contradicted USA intelligence agencies earlier this week when he backed away from blaming Russian Federation for meddling in the 2016 election, provoking condemnation.

The White House hasn't commented yet on the allegation but in a series of tweets in the hours after publication, Trump once again slammed the news media over the Russian Federation summit as the "enemy of the people".

"It's insane and should be called insane and outrageous, not just by me, but by the United States government", McFaul said.

Russian officials have singled out McFaul, the USA ambassador to Russia from 2012-14, and fellow Kremlin critic Bill Browder.

He said he looked forward to a second meeting with Putin to tackle the issues.

According to a White House transcript, he said: "I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be".

"Certain forces are trying to disavow the results of the meeting in Helsinki", and hamper progress on what they discussed, such as limiting their nuclear arsenals or ending the war in Syria, Putin said.

On Wednesday, the Russian Prosecutor General's office listed Americans it wants to question for "illegal activities", including Michael McFaul, who was US ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration and is now at Stanford University in California. "That was a big factor", Trump said.

Trump's tweet comes on the heels of his multi-day clarifications of statements regarding Russian Federation and election meddling and following his widely-panned press conference with Putin in Helsinki.

Melania Trump left with freakish expression after handshake with Vladimir Putin
He also said he misspoke when he suggested otherwise in a widely criticized press conference with Putin on Monday. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said last week that "the warning signs are there".

He also lashed out at Europe and US -dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, saying Russian Federation would hit back with an "equivalent response" to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bases near Russia's borders and other "aggressive steps".

He didn't reverse other statements in which he gave clear credence to Putin's "extremely strong and powerful" denial of Russian involvement, raised doubts about his own intelligence agencies' conclusions and advanced discredited conspiracy theories about election meddling.

His unusually meek attitude to Putin has reignited old - and heavily denied - rumors that Putin has compromising material on Trump, which he is using as leverage.

That is in direct contradiction to a statement his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, made on Monday.

And as the days pass and Trump's comments about Monday's summit become more and more contradictory, Moscow appears to be quietly losing hope for a thaw in Russian-U.S. ties under Trump.

"The president is going to meet with his team and we'll let you know when we have an announcement on that", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a news briefing. "Trump is bruised by the idea that Russian election meddling taints his victory, those close to him say, and can't concede the fact that Russia did try to interfere in the election, regardless of whether it impacted the outcome".

"Many of the stories written about me, and the good people surrounding me, are total fiction", he said. "There is just rule of Putin".

Trump asserted Wednesday at the White House that no other American president has been as tough on Russian Federation.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote on Twitter that he thought the White House must "publicly and unequivocally rule it out".

During a news conference after Monday's summit, Mr Trump was asked about alleged Russian meddling in the USA election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller secured an indictment last Friday charging 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic computer networks in 2016 as part of a wide-ranging conspiracy.

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