While standing next to Putin on Monday, Trump proceeded to attack special counsel Robert Mueller, blame the U.S. for the bad blood between the countries and allow Putin to lie about the interference. Back in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans slammed Trump’s rhetoric.
Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin took place days after Mueller announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals in the ongoing Russia investigation. Trump attacked Mueller at the press conference when he said, “the probe is a disaster for our country.” Trump when on to say “There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.” Overall, he refused to condemn Russia for their interference in the 2016 election and he handed the floor over to Putin to defend himself.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) criticized Trump for his attacks on Mueller. He also warned that Putin would take Trump’s comments as a “green light” to interfere in the 2020 election:
President Trump just attacked our intelligence agencies and law enforcement for doing their jobs while standing next to a dictator who intervened in our election to help elect Trump.
Putin will take this as a green light to interfere in 2018, and it is. Cowardly and shameful.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) July 16, 2018
However, why would Trump care if Putin interfered in the next election? It worked out well for him last time. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also criticized Trump for his behavior at the press conference and even questioned if Putin could be blackmailing Trump with “damaging information.” In a statement, Schumer said that Trump's behavior leaves “a single, ominous question … over the White House.”
What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.
Schumer also criticized Trump's statements that the U.S. is to blame for the current bad relationship with Russia. Trump said, “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. ...I think we're all to blame.” In response Schumer said:
For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak. The president is putting himself over our country.
Overall, Schumer called Trump's comments at the press conference a “shameful performance” and questioned if the president had been blackmailed. Later, the House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with Schumer and said the press conference “proves the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically.” Democratic Senator Jeff Markley echoed these comments and said it was “likely” that Russia had some kind of dirt on Trump.
Republican Senator John McCain also spoke out against Trump's press conference comments calling the event, “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” He went on to say that Trump and Putin “seemed to be speaking from the same script” and Trump made a “conscious choice to defend a tyrant.”
Trump wasn't just criticized by lawmakers, but by almost all of the major U.S. news outlets. Hosts and reporters from CNN, NBC, ABC and even Trump's favorite “real news” outlet Fox News all bashed Trump following the press conference. CNN's Anderson Cooper declared that the press conference was “perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader that I have ever seen.”
NBC's Chuck Todd tweeted, “The president tries to pull a “both sides” on the Putin v US intel and ends up essentially confessing to the world that he believes Putin more the the United States of America and its agencies.” Meghan McCain, John McCain's daughter and a host on ABC said, “I don't have anything quippy to tweet. I'm horrified — and have never been more proud of the fact that Putin hates my father so much he personally sanctioned him on Russia's enemies list.” Brit Hume, who is an analyst for Trump's beloved Fox News said:
Trump, finally asked whom he believes on Russia interference, gives a vague and rambling non-answer, with renewed complaints about Hillary's server. Says he trusts US intel but made clear he takes Putin's denials seriously. Lame response, to say the least.
Fox Business echoed Hume's comments. Neil Cavuto said it was “disgusting” that Trump didn't confront Putin about the interference. He went on to say, “It's not a right or left thing. It's just wrong.”
Neil Cavuto of Fox Business calls Trump's press conference "disgusting", "That sets us back a lot." pic.twitter.com/R2ZIjyFyPR— Axios (@axios) July 16, 2018
The list goes on with more Fox News staffers bashing Trump’s performance. Contributor Guy Benson called the press conference “easily one of [Trump’s] worst days as president,” while Chief Political Anchor Brett Baier called it “surreal.” Criticisms continue to spread across Twitter and news outlets from both Democrats and Republicans as the list of backlash and disappointment grows. Today, Trump learned that no matter what political party, U.S. citizens prefer that their president side with the U.S. instead of with a dictator.