HELSINKI SUMMIT | McCain blasts Trump press conference


2:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. John McCain called President Donald Trump’s press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

The Arizona Republican says the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was “a tragic mistake.”

The senator says Trump proved not only unable, “but unwilling to stand up to Putin.” And he said Trump and Putin “seemed to be speaking from the same script” as Trump made a “conscious choice to defend a tyrant.”

McCain, who has been away from the Senate as he battles brain cancer, said the damage inflicted by Trump’s “naivete, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.”

Meanwhile, another top Republican senator said Trump’s refusal to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election makes the U.S. “look like a pushover” in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says Trump’s performance at a summit with Putin was not “a good moment for our country. This was a very good day for President Putin.”

Corker says there’s no doubt Russia interfered in the election, adding that he was disappointed and saddened that Trump equated the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered and Putin’s denial.

1:43 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Key members of Congress, including some Republicans, are criticizing President Donald Trump’s performance at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “bizarre,” “shameful” and a “missed opportunity” to stand up to Russia.

And a former CIA director says it’s treasonous.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted, “This is shameful.” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called it “bizarre” and “flat-out wrong” for Trump to suggest that both countries are to blame for their deteriorated relationship.

Top Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, says never in the history of the country has a U.S. president supported an adversary the way Trump supported Putin.

Former CIA Director John O. Brennan tweeted that Trump’s behavior exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. Brennan says, “It was nothing short of treasonous.”

U.S. Rep Tim Ryan said Trump's news conference performance was "truly a low point in the history of American foreign policy."

“President Trump’s action at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was a disgraceful setback to the United States’ global leadership; an insult to those serving in our intelligence agencies; and a disheartening betrayal of every service member defending the U.S. government’s interests against Russian government hostility," Ryan said in a statement. "President Trump’s appeasement of Putin with denials of Russia’s continued cyberattacks on our nation is pathetic and weak — especially coming just hours after referring to the European Union as a great ‘foe,’ and days after 12 Russians were indicted as part of special counsel Mueller’s investigation."

Also weighing in was U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown:

“The intelligence experts we trust to keep America safe have said that Russia continues to threaten our democracy and our critical infrastructure, and the President missed an opportunity to do something about it,” Brown said in a statement. “The Ukrainian community in Ohio knows all too well the dangers of unchecked Russian aggression. We must demand Russia turn over the spies who hacked our election and show Putin we will not put up with threats to our infrastructure that undercut our democratic institutions.”

12:26 p.m.

HELSINKI (AP) — President Donald Trump says he sees no reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election.

Trump resisted when asked Monday to condemn Russian meddling in the election. Instead, he complained about a Democratic National Committee computer server and emails belonging to Hillary Clinton, the Democrat he defeated to win the presidency.

At a joint appearance in Finland with Vladimir Putin, Trump repeated the Russian leader’s denials about involvement in the election.

Trump said of Putin: “He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Putin said that Moscow and Washington could jointly conduct criminal investigations into Russian intelligence officials accused of hacking during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

Asked if Russia could extradite 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted in the U.S. last week on charges of hacking into the Democratic election campaign, Putin challenged the U.S. to take advantage of a 1999 agreement envisaging mutual legal assistance.

He said the agreement would allow U.S. officials to request that Russian authorities interrogate the 12 suspects, adding that U.S. officials could request to be present in such interrogations.

Putin noted that Russia would expect the U.S. to return the favor and cooperate in the Russian probe against William Browder, a British investor charged of financial crimes in Russia. Browder was a driving force behind a U.S. law targeting Russian officials over human rights abuses.

Putin spoke after a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki on Monday.

12:05 p.m.

HELSINKI (AP) — President Donald Trump says the Russia investigation has been a “disaster” for the United States and has kept America and Russia “separated.”

Speaking during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, he reiterates that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russian government.

Trump says he ran a “clean campaign” and he beat his Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton “easily.” The president says it’s a “shame” there is a cloud over his administration. He says he ran a “brilliant campaign and that’s why I’m president.”

Putin is pushing back against claims that his government interfered in the U.S. election. He says there’s “no evidence when it comes to the actual facts.”

10:25 a.m.

HELSINKI (AP) — President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin opened their long-awaited summit Monday with a wink and slouch, respectively, then talked one on one behind closed doors for two-plus hours before the American leader declared their meeting was off to a “very, very good start for everybody.”

Neither leader revealed what was discussed. But in advance of the talks, Trump listed a series of topics that did not include Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“We have not been getting along well for the last number of years,” Trump said after arriving at the Presidential Palace in Finland’s capital, where the leaders are meeting. “But I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship. ... I really think the world wants to see us get along.”

Putin, for his part, said he and Trump have maintained regular contact through phone calls and meetings at international events but “the time has come to have a thorough discussion on various international problems and sensitive issues.” He added: “There are quite a few of them for us to pay attention to.”

Their opening one-on-one session had been scheduled to run 90 minutes. The Russians said it lasted two hours and 10 minutes. The White House wouldn’t immediately confirm the timing.

The summit, which is being closely watched around the world, was not the first time Trump and Putin have held talks. They met on the sidelines of world leader meetings in Germany and Vietnam last year. But Monday’s session was condemned in advance by members of Congress from both parties after the U.S. indictment last week of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats in the 2016 election to help Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump said last week that he would raise the meddling issue again with Putin, but questions have been swirling about whether Trump will sharply and publicly rebuke his Russian counterpart for the interference that prompted a special investigation probe that Trump has repeatedly labeled a “witch hunt.”

Addressing reporters before the one-on-one meeting, Putin struck a casual pose during Trump’s remarks, slouching in his chair with his legs wide and eyes low. He nodded along to some of Trump’s remarks before they were translated, showcasing his fluency in English. Trump leaned forward in his chair, his hands tented in front of him and frequently glanced over at the Russian president. At one point, he shot Putin a wink. After Trump concluded his remarks, American reporters shouted several questions about whether he would bring up election meddling during his discussions with Putin.

Trump did not respond; Putin appeared to smirk.

With that, the leaders gave a quick handshake and their private meeting in the opulent Gothic Hall was under way. Just the two of them, each with a translator.

They continued the discussion with an expanded group of aides and over lunch in the Hall of Mirrors, once the emperor’s throne room. They’ll conclude the summit by taking questions at a joint news conference.

Out on the streets, the summit attracted a grab-bag of protesters, with abortion-rights activists wearing artificially bulging bellies and Trump masks, anti-fascist protesters bearing signs with expletive-laden insults, and free traders, anti-war Ukrainians and gay rights supporters making their voices heard.

The summit began just hours after Trump blamed the United States — and not Russian election meddling or its annexation of Crimea — for a low-point in U.S.-Russia relations. The drama was playing out against a backdrop of fraying Western alliances, a new peak in the Russia investigation and fears that Moscow’s aggression may go unchallenged.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse,” Trump tweeted Monday morning, blaming “many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

8:04 a.m.

HELSINKI (AP) — President Donald Trump opened a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday by predicting that their countries will end up having “an extraordinary relationship” but without mentioning Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in his opening remarks.

“Our two countries, frankly, we have not been getting along well,” Trump said as he and Putin sat down at the Presidential Palace in Finland’s capital. “I really think the world wants to see us get along.”

Putin, for his part, said he and Trump have maintained regular contact, including talking by phone and meeting at international events. Speaking through a translator, the Russian leader said “the time has come to have a thorough discussion on various international problems and sensitive issues.”

The summit got under way hours after Trump blamed the United States, and not Russian election meddling or its annexation of Crimea, for a low-point in U.S.-Russia relations. The drama was playing out against a backdrop of fraying Western alliances, a new peak in the Russia investigation and fears that Moscow’s aggression may go unchallenged.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse,” Trump tweeted Monday morning, blaming “many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

Russian’s Vladimir Putin plane landed in Helsinki, Finland 30 minutes later than planned, pushing back his meeting with US President Donald Trump. Putin’s spokesman said he hopes the summit is a “baby step” toward fixing US-Russian relations. (July 16)

The summit, which was being closely monitored by rattled world capitals, was condemned in advance by members of Congress from both parties after the U.S. indictment last week of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats in the 2016 election to help Trump’s presidential campaign. Undeterred, the American president was set to go face to face with Putin, the authoritarian leader for whom he has expressed admiration.

The summit started late because Putin arrived in Helsinki about a half hour behind schedule in another display of the Russian’s leader famous lack of punctuality. Trump seemed to return the favor by waiting until Putin had arrived at the palace before leaving his hotel. Putin has been late for past meetings with the pope and British Queen, among many others.

Trump and his aides have repeatedly tried to lower expectations about what the summit will achieve. He told CBS News that he didn’t “expect anything” from Putin, while his national security adviser said the U.S. wasn’t looking for any “concrete deliverables.” Trump told reporters during a breakfast Monday with Finland’s president that he thought the summit would go “fine.”

Trump said he and Putin would discuss a range of issues, from trade to the military, along with missiles and China. They shared a brief handshake before reporters were ushered out so they could begin their one-on-one talks in the palace’s opulent Gothic Hall.

They’ll continue their discussions with an expanded group of aides and over lunch in the Hall of Mirrors, once the emperor’s throne room. The leaders will conclude by taking questions at a joint news conference.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.