Spelling it out: War of words over US-Russia relations

Ruben Hill
July 22, 2018

Almost a week after Trump met with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, the White House is continuing to grapple with the fallout after the US President shocked the world and provoked a rebuke from some top Republicans, as well as Democrats, in Congress by not endorsing the conclusion of the US intelligence community that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election over Putin's denial.

In Central Park, she outlined the extent of Russian interference as depicted in the recent indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump's public doubting of Russia's culpability for interference in 2016 - though he later tried to "clarify" his remarks a day later - sparked bipartisan condemnation in Washington and sparked congressional lawmakers to look once again for ways to tighten sanctions on the longtime USA foe.

Trump's anger over having to answer Lemire's question - not his failure in attempting to do so - lingered on.

An autumn summit between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin would focus on national security, the White House said Friday, and Moscow signaled an openness to a second meeting between the two leaders.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats says his Thursday comments at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado were not meant to be critical of the president's handling of the summit. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. but I have confidence in both parties.

Coats and Trump do not have a contentious relationship, officials say, though it's not close.

Reaction to his comments were swift and critical - even among his Republican Party. The State Department, by contrast, rejected the proposal - which Trump days earlier had called an "incredible offer - as "absurd".

The Washington Post reported that Trump specifically admired how Putin is "strong, smart, and cunning". It wasn't just the words he "misspoke" at the Helsinki summit that sparked criticism. He reiterated there had been no collusion between his campaign and Moscow, an allegation that has dogged his presidency from the start.

Coats said it was news to him. Trump appeared to answer "no" to a reporter's question asking whether Russian Federation was still targeting the U.S. Hours later, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emerged to say Trump had merely tried to put a stop to the questioning by saying "no", although he continued discussing Russian Federation after that.

After he issued his clarifying statement the following day, reporters asked President Trump if he would take this opportunity to criticise the Russian president.

Since the summit, the White House has been engulfed in crisis after crisis as Trump dug himself into a deeper hole vis-a-vis Russian Federation even after arriving back in the US. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country.

Even for Trump, a leader who has increasingly come to cast off the constraints and guidance of aides, the him-against-the-world position proved untenable.

"Vladimir Putin has a very clear strategy", she said. There was also Putin's controversial suggestion that the US could sit in on the questioning of the 12 indicted Russians - but only if the USA would allow Russia to question of Americans whom the Kremlin has accused of committing "illegal activities".

Commenting on the meeting, Mr Coats said: "I don't know what happened in that meeting".

The U.S. Senate rebuked the president for not outright rejecting the proposal, overwhelmingly passing a non-binding resolution against allowing Russian Federation to question U.S. officials.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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