Trump Putin: US president defends meeting and press conference

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The president said “Trump Derangement Syndrome” was to blame for the criticism

US President Donald Trump has lashed out at “haters” who condemned his meeting with Russia’s president.

On Twitter, Mr Trump said his critics were suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.

The broadside came a day after he said he misspoke during Monday’s Helsinki summit when he appeared to side with Vladimir Putin over claims of Kremlin meddling in US elections.

Despite the controversy, Republican voters still seem to support Mr Trump.

Responding on Twitter on Wednesday morning, the Republican president said his critics would “rather go to war” and “wanted to see a boxing match” between him and Mr Putin.

“There’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been,” he told reporters during a meeting with his cabinet members later in the day.

One journalist asked Mr Trump if Russia was still targeting the US. He answered: “Thank you very much, no.”

It was not clear whether he heard the question, but such an assessment would contradict the views of US intelligence that Moscow continues to attempt to interfere in US elections.

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Media captionTrump says he “misspoke” at Putin summit, but is it too late? Anthony Zurcher explains

A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week found that despite a firestorm of media criticism, Mr Trump’s Finland summit had no real impact on his overall approval ratings.

In the survey, 42% of all registered voters approved of his job performance, which is consistent with averages thus far.

Some 71% of Republicans polled approved of his response to Russia, while only 14% of Democrats were in favour.

Will there be consequences?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week amid calls from both sides of the aisle to detail what was discussed during Mr Trump’s two-hour meeting with Mr Putin.

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives, tried on Tuesday to stage a symbolic vote to support the findings of Russian interference, but was blocked by Republicans.

Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons, an Arizona Republican and a Delaware Democrat, are reportedly working on a nonbinding resolution to endorse the intelligence committee’s findings.

But Texas Republican John Cornyn said the Senate should focus on “additional sanctions instead of just some messaging exercise”.

What was the reaction?

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, called the Helsinki news conference “saddening and disappointing”.

Even one of Mr Trump’s most loyal Republican supporters, Newt Gingrich, said the comments were the “most serious mistake of his presidency”.

House Republican Mike Turner accused Mr Trump of having damaged American foreign policy by failing to take Russia to task.

Yet the president’s support held firm among the Republican rank-and-file, especially from members of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Representative Andy Biggs, a member of the Caucus, criticised reporters at the summit for asking “odd” questions.

Fellow member Representative Andy Harris said: “I disregard and discount anything that involves the mainstream media press.”

What exactly did Trump say?

During a news conference after Monday’s summit, Mr Trump was asked about alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

According to a transcript posted by the White House, he said: “My people came to me… they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

On Tuesday, Mr Trump said he had reviewed the transcript and realised he needed to clarify.

“The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t’ or ‘why it wouldn’t be Russia’. Sort of a double negative.”

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Media captionThe ways Trump and Putin see eye to eye

Mr Trump said that the interference had had no impact on the election, in which he defeated Hillary Clinton.

However, he did not respond when reporters asked him if he would condemn Mr Putin.

In another tweet on Wednesday, Mr Trump said his meeting with Mr Putin was “positive” and “may prove to be, in the long run… an even greater success”.





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