Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin today gave him the ideal opportunity to confront Russia over its meddling in American affairs.
But the US president stunned his nation by turning on his own intelligence chiefs and insisted Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 election race, which he won.
And Mr Trump was tonight branded a spineless traitor for siding with his rival and calling an FBI probe into claims Putin influenced the election “ridiculous”.
During a joint press conference in Helsinki, which was briefly delayed when a protester was removed, the president insisted: “There was no collusion at all.
“I have President Putin, he said it’s not Russia. I will say this: ‘I don’t see any reason why it would be.’”
But his willingness to accept the Russian’s word without question sparked fury back home.
Former CIA director John Brennan said: “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”
Republican senator Jeff Flake added: “I never thought I would see the day when our president would stand on the stage with the Russian president and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.”
Fellow Republican John McCain branded Mr Trump’s press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president” in his lifetime. He added: “President Trump proved not only unable but unwilling to stand up to Putin.
“He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as he made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant and to grant him an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.”
Even Trump ally Orrin Hatch blasted his boss.
He said: “Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
“Our nation’s top intelligence agencies all agree on that point.
“From the president on down, we must do everything to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says. I trust the good work of our intelligence and law enforcement personnel.” Democratic senator Chris Murphy added: “This trip has just been one giant middle finger from Trump to his own country.”
SOURCE: Christopher Bucktin