Putin summit brings end to frosty US-Russia relations

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are meeting in Helsinki

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are meeting in Helsinki

President Donald Trump, while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, refused to acknowledge what major USA major intelligence agencies have been saying for more than a year: That Russian nationals, following orders from Putin, interfered in the 2016 election and carried out cyberattacks on American political figures.

In a remarkable news conference following a summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, both leaders addressed the USA intelligence community's conclusion that the Kremlin meddled in the election and the investigation into the interference, led by Mueller, that has resulted in charges against several Russians.

Standing next to the Russian leader, Trump also bashed the Democratic Party, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling, Hillary Clinton and members of the news media.

'As I said today and many times before, 'I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.' However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we can not exclusively focus on the past - as the world's two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! As Lindsey Graham, the United States senator from SC, put it: "This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russian Federation as a sign of weakness, and create far more problems than it solves".

The two men have agreed there was "no collusion" between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation in the election, despite an ongoing probe by United States special counsel Robert Mueller into such allegations which Trump labelled a "disaster for our country".

He asked whether Trump "with the whole world watching" would "denounce" Russia's actions and warn Putin to never do it again.

Trump responded by echoing a bombshell tweet in which he derided his own country's past "foolishness and stupidity" for the state of relations between Russian Federation and the US.

The two leaders spoke at a joint news conference in Helsinki on Monday.

"The president's disgraceful performance today - refusing to confront Putin even as he criticized American intelligence agencies - only underscores the dangers we're facing".

President Trump questioned Monday whether Russian Federation was behind the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails.

Top Democrats urge Trump to cancel meeting with Putin
After meeting the queen at Windsor Castle, Trump headed to Scotland , where his mother, Mary Anne, was born. Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said on Twitter that the indictments were "good news for all Americans".

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from MA, said Trump embarrassed the US. I mean, we have intelligence reports saying Russian Federation was behind it.

Days before the summit, Coats had spoken publicly of his concerns about cyber threats to US national security and singled out Russian Federation as the most aggressive foreign actor in that arena. I think we're all to blame. "I don't see why they would do it", Trump added.

"We have solid reason to believe that some [U.S.] intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions", Putin charged, adding that Moscow would like a "reciprocal" opportunity to question "officials, including officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States whom we believe...have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russian Federation".

Rather than saying "yes" or "no", Putin said he had "heard" about "rumors" of such material "allegedly" gathered when Trump was in Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe Pageant.

"I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her..."

Putin told Trump at the start of their summit on Monday "the time has come to talk thoroughly about bilateral relations, as well as various hotspots in the world".

Trump leaned forward in his chair, his hands tented in front of him and frequently glanced over at the Russian president.

The pair had 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".

After Trump concluded his remarks, American reporters shouted several questions about whether he would bring up election meddling during his discussions with Putin.

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