Trump, at Putin’s Side, Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election

HELSINKI, Finland — President Trump stood subsequent to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday and publicly challenged the conclusion of his personal intelligence businesses that Moscow interfered within the 2016 presidential election, wrapping up what he referred to as a “deeply productive” summit meeting with a rare present of belief for a pacesetter accused of attacking American democracy.

In a outstanding information convention, Mr. Trump didn’t title a single motion for which Mr. Putin must be held accountable. Instead, he saved his sharpest criticism for the United States and the particular counsel investigation into the election interference, calling it a “ridiculous” probe and a “witch hunt” that has stored the 2 nations aside.

Mr. Trump even questioned the determinations by his intelligence officers that Russia had meddled within the election.

“They said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,” the president continued, solely moments after Mr. Putin conceded that he had needed Mr. Trump to win the election due to his guarantees of hotter relations with Moscow.

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia that was answerable for the election hacking, Mr. Trump added. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

The 45-minute information convention provided the spectacle of the American and Russian presidents each pushing again on the notion of Moscow’s election interference, with Mr. Putin demanding proof of one thing he mentioned had by no means been proved, and Mr. Trump showing to agree.

When requested instantly whether or not he believed Mr. Putin or his personal intelligence businesses concerning the election meddling, Mr. Trump mentioned there have been “two thoughts” on the matter: one from American officers like Dan Coats, his director of nationwide intelligence, asserting Russia’s involvement; and one from Mr. Putin dismissing it.

“I have confidence in both parties,” Mr. Trump mentioned.

He then modified the topic, demanding to know why the F.B.I. by no means examined the hacked laptop servers of the Democratic National Committee, and asking concerning the destiny of emails lacking from the server of Hillary Clinton, his marketing campaign rival.

“Where are Hillary Clinton’s emails?” Mr. Trump mentioned.

His efficiency drew howls of protests from Democrats and a few Republicans, prompting John O. Brennan, who served as C.I.A. director below President Barack Obama, to recommend that the remarks warranted Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,’” Mr. Brennan wrote on Twitter, calling the president’s conduct “treasonous.” “Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, released a statement saying, “there is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy.”

And inside hours, Mr. Coats issued his personal strongly worded assertion that contained an implicit rebuke of Mr. Trump.

“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy,” Mr. Coats mentioned. “We will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

Some of Mr. Trump’s personal advisers privately mentioned they have been shocked by the president’s efficiency, together with his use of the phrase “witch hunt” to explain the particular counsel investigation whereas standing beside Mr. Putin.

Aboard Air Force One again to Washington, Mr. Trump’s temper grew foul because the breadth of the crucial reactions turned clear, in keeping with some individuals briefed on the flight. Aides steered away from the entrance of the aircraft to keep away from being tapped for a venting session with Mr. Trump.

Some political allies nervous that the encounter with Mr. Putin would linger over Republicans heading into the midterm elections this fall.

“President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin,” Newt Gingrich, the previous Republican speaker of the House who has suggested Mr. Trump, said on Twitter. “It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected — immediately.”

Both presidents mentioned it was important to speak to one another as a result of, as leaders of two main nuclear powers, they’d a duty to interact in dialogue and guarantee world stability.

But Mr. Trump’s statements at the information convention have been a outstanding break together with his administration, which on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for cyberattacks supposed to intervene within the presidential contest. The indictment defined, intimately, how Russian intelligence officers hacked the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential marketing campaign, offering probably the most specific account to this point of the Russian authorities’s meddling in American democracy.

Mr. Trump mentioned he didn’t regard Mr. Putin as an adversary, however as a “good competitor,” including that, “the word competitor is a compliment.”

When Mr. Putin was requested by an American reporter whether or not he had needed Mr. Trump to win and directed an effort supposed to result in that end result, the Russian president rapidly answered, “Yes I did, yes I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.” It was not clear whether or not he had heard the interpretation of the second a part of the query.

Mr. Putin mentioned he would look into the potential for having Russian legislation enforcement authorities help Robert S. Mueller III, the particular counsel investigating Moscow’s election interference, in questioning the 12 individuals who have been charged. Mr. Trump referred to as it an “incredible offer.”

But in return, Mr. Putin, who rolled his eyes and snickered at the notion that he had compromising materials on Mr. Trump or his household, mentioned that Russia would anticipate American help in circumstances of curiosity to Moscow, together with the flexibility to ship Russian legislation enforcement officers to work within the United States.

He singled out William F. Browder, a longstanding critic of the Kremlin whose associates Mr. Putin accused of evading taxes and funneling tens of millions of to the Clinton marketing campaign, with out offering proof.

Mr. Putin additionally took solace in Mr. Trump’s doubt-casting about who was answerable for the hacking, saying the allegations that Russia had directed the hassle have been “utter nonsense, just like the president recently mentioned.”

Emerging from his one-on-one assembly with Mr. Putin, which was adopted by a bigger lunch assembly with advisers, Mr. Trump cited a litany of things that he mentioned had stood in the best way of higher relations between the United States and Russia. He blamed Democrats’ bitterness over having misplaced an election that they need to have gained, and Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Trump claimed to have defused all of that rigidity in a matter of minutes.

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “However, that changed as of about four hours ago.”

Mr. Trump started his day on Monday on Twitter, blaming American “foolishness and stupidity” for years of escalating rigidity with Russia, in addition to the “Rigged Witch Hunt.”

The remark appeared to absolve Moscow of many irritants within the relationship with Russia, together with the election hacking, the annexation of Crimea, Russian backing for rebels in Ukraine and for the Assad authorities in Syria, and Moscow’s suspected use of a nerve agent to poison people in Britain.

In reality, Russia’s Foreign Ministry recirculated the remark, chiming in, “We agree.”

For a lot of the information convention, Mr. Trump seemed to be way more centered on defending the legitimacy of his election victory than on figuring out who was behind the election hacking.

“There was no collusion at all — everybody knows it,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily.”

He added, “We ran a brilliant campaign, and that’s why I’m president.”

Later, in an interview with Fox News, Mr. Putin repeated his assertion that Russia had not interfered within the American presidential race. But then he prompt that the hacking itself shouldn’t be handled as such an explosive difficulty, as a result of the emails taken from Democratic officers have been correct.

“The information that I am aware of, there’s nothing false about it,” Mr. Putin mentioned within the interview. “Every single grain of it is true. And the Democratic leadership admitted it.”

In the United States, critics of Mr. Trump reacted angrily to his rivalry that Russia and the United States shared blame for his or her deteriorated relationship.

“This is bizarre and flat-out wrong,” mentioned Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska. “The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people, but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the president plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”

Mr. Ryan mentioned, “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideas.”

The summit assembly capped a weeklong European journey during which Mr. Trump disparaged NATO allies, castigated Germany, criticized the British prime minister on her personal soil and branded the European Union a “foe” on commerce — whereas he mused about his want for hotter relations with Mr. Putin.

Many in Mr. Trump’s personal authorities think about Mr. Putin a probably harmful adversary to be countered, not courted. On Friday, Mr. Coats mentioned of Russian cyberattacks on the United States, “the warning lights are blinking red again.”

As Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump emerged from a longer-than-expected set of talks, which included a 130-minute one-on-one session with no advisers current, they mentioned they’d made progress in forging the bond that each have been in search of.

“We had direct, open, deeply productive dialogue,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “It went very well.”

Mr. Putin mentioned the 2 have been “glad with the outcome of our first full-scale meeting,” including, “I hope that we start to understand each other better, and I’m grateful to Donald for it.”

Finland, the location of the assembly, shares an extended border with Russia and has been the location of previous diplomatic breakthroughs. But this spherical of talks didn’t seem to have produced any.

The two presidents mentioned they might work collectively on nuclear arms management, though neither talked about a concrete set of actions on forging a brand new treaty to interchange the New Start Treaty, which is about to run out in 2021. They additionally didn’t deal with what American officers have mentioned are Russian violations of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The two additionally mentioned they might work collectively to safe Israel’s border with Syria, restoring a cease-fire within the Golan Heights, and cooperate to convey humanitarian aid to handle the toll of the civil warfare that has raged in Syria for greater than seven years.

Mr. Trump mentioned he had instantly confronted Mr. Putin on the election interference, calling it “a message best delivered in person.” But he pivoted nearly instantly to criticism of Mr. Mueller’s investigation and a recitation of his success within the Electoral College, blaming the investigation — not Russia’s actions — for the shortcoming of two nice nuclear powers to work collectively.

“I think that the probe is a disaster for our country,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “I think it’s kept us apart; it’s kept us separated. There is no collusion at all.”

He twice referred to as Mr. Putin’s proposal to probably permit Russian officers to query the 12 indicted brokers with American observers current “an incredible offer.”

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the particular counsel, had no remark on the concept.

Matt Apuzzo contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

A model of this text seems in print on , on Page A1 of the New York version with the headline: Trump, With Putin, Attacks 2016 Intelligence. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Source link