United States intelligence chief says no disrespect intended toward Trump

24 July, 2018, 01:52 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • IN Focus: Indiana politicians come to Coats' defense after Russia summit

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said his Thursday comments at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado were not meant to be critical of Mr. Trump's decision to invite Mr. Putin to a meeting in Washington later this year.

That comes after a week of drama, back tracking, a double negative and blistering statements from allies about his attitude toward Russian election interference.

Monday's firestorm erupted when Trump, standing side-by-side with Putin in Helsinki, refused to say he believed that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election, or to publicly condemn it.

Trump fired off a defense of his performance while attacking the media who covered it as the ABC poll showed 50 per cent of Americans disapproved of his conduct at the summit, where he expressed support for Putin's "powerful" denial of election hacking despite the conclusions of USA intelligence.

GOP Sen. John McCain called Trump's performance at the news conference "disgraceful", and House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly contradicted the president when he said "there is no question that Russian Federation interfered in our election".

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US President, Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands before attending a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. Any expression of concern about Russian interference seems, in President Trump's mind, to delegitimize his electoral victory, and consequently his presidency.

For his part, Barletta said in a statement released by his campaign that he, too, agrees with US intelligence agencies, and that he will "continue to do everything I can" to prevent Russian Federation from doing so again. Instead, he directed his ire at Democrats and US officials, calling special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference a "disaster" and a "witch hunt". Bob Casey, blasted Trump's conduct in Helsinki as "dangerous and reckless".

Before his Aspen Security Forum appearance, Coats was already portrayed as a voice of dissent in the Trump administration by the mainstream media for seemingly standing up to Trump in the wake of the Helsinki summit, which Trump's opponents dubbed "disastrous" and "nothing short of treason". Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, did not shy away from criticizing Trump's comments in Helsinki. He asked his interviewer, "Say that again, did I hear you?"

Toomey also aggressively attacked Putin, calling him a "bad actor" who should be treated as an worldwide pariah.

Moscow has said "agreements" had been reached over the situation in Syria. A smaller 58 percent majority of conservatives approve of Trump's conduct at the summit. On both questions, those who say they "strongly disapprove" of Trump's performance outnumber those who say they "strongly approve, " by better than 2 to 1. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed later in the day that Trump was saying "no" to answering additional questions.

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