Republicans, Democrats slam Trump for being soft on Putin

Metzel Mikhail/ZUMA Press/NewscomDuring a joint press conference Monday morning, President Donald Trump told the world that he accepted Vladimir Putin's dubious assertion that the Russian government did not meddle in America's 2016 election. Trump himself sounded sympathetic to the Russian position, saying: "I don't see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election". "But if we are going to solve numerous problems facing our world, then we are going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests".

And, along the way, Putin admitted deadpan to a journalist that he wanted Trump to win the USA elections "because he was the one who wanted to normalise relations with Russia".

Trump said that while USA officials have shown him that Russian Federation interfered with election systems, Putin has said "it's not Russia" who meddled. He added that they "spent a great deal of time talking about it".

Trump also attacked special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, calling it "a disaster for our country".

Asked if he held Russian Federation accountable for anything, Trump said, "I hold both countries responsible", doubling down on tweets earlier Monday in which he faulted "U.S. foolishness and stupidity" for the country's relationship with Russian Federation. There was no collusion at all. He said Putin was "extremely strong and powerful in his denial today" - so apparently, that's that.

"I didn't know the president", he said. "There was nobody to collude with".

Putin appeared to smirk as Trump ignored shouted questions about whether he would warn the Russian leader against meddling in the 2018 midterm elections. The March 20 call came after Putin was re-elected, and was the same call in which Trump was given briefing materials instructing him not to congratulate Putin.

"We ran a brilliant campaign and that's why I'm president", he said.

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"I just saw a U.S. secret service agent put the soccer ball Putin gave Trump through a security scanner outside the Pres. Palace", Bill Neely, a reporter for NBC, wrote later in a tweet.

They were then joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Chief of Staff John Kelly and their Russian counterparts for further discussions.

Ahead of their meeting at Finland's Presidential Palace, both leaders made brief opening remarks to reporters.

Last night, Germany's foreign minister said Europe could not rely on Mr Trump's administration for its support. "But I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship".

When asked whether Russian Federation has any compromising information on Trump at Monday's conference, Putin described such allegations as "utter nonsense". "I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be". "We are the two great nuclear powers, we have 90 percent of the nuclear".

"I've been saying, and I'm sure you've heard over the years, that getting along with Russian Federation is a good thing not a bad thing".

Trump told CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor that he had low expectations for the summit.

He also talked about how no matter how well the summit went, it would never be good enough for his critics. Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russian Federation. over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn't good enough - that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!

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