WASHINGTON, DC — Republicans, Democrats and even former top government officials were quick to denounce President Donald Trump’s remarks Monday after he spoke publicly with Russian President Vladimir Putin and even faulted the U.S. for frayed relations between the two nations. Trump publicly sided with Putin on the issue of election cyberattacks despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
House Speaker Paul Ryan joined several of his GOP colleagues in calling out the president’s comments, pointedly noting that there was “no question that Russia interfered with our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”
“That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence,” Ryan said in a statement. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”
Ryan added that the U.S. must hold Russia accountable and end what he called “vile attacks on democracy.”
Here are five of the most scorching quotes from powerful figures in politics and intelligence on the Trump-Putin meeting.
1. Former CIA Director John Brennan said Trump’s comments could be considered a crime.
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
2. Republican Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told CNN he supports the intelligence community.
“I don’t know (whether) the president is trying to use some sort of carrots and stick approach with Putin but I believe the intelligence community,” Cornyn said. He added that the latest round of indictments from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe were “spot on.”
3. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona — a longtime Trump critic — called the president’s comments disgraceful.
“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” McCain said. “The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”
4. GOP strategist Mike Murphy almost echoed Brennan’s statement that the spectacle was treasonous.
“Just saw the most depressing, disgusting, toadying, weak, moronic, lie-stuffed, and damn near traitorous public hour in the long history of the American Presidency. A dark day,” he wrote in a tweet.
5. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey of New York skewered Trump, who she likened to Putin’s underling.
“In all fairness to @realDonaldTrump, performance reviews with your boss are often 1 on 1,” she tweeted.
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