Amid a flood of criticism from members of both parties over his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump declined to reverse course Tuesday by instead highlighting the meeting as more productive than his gathering with NATO allies days before.
“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”
While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2018
While the president dismissed the criticism as evidence of a biased media, it’s not just Democrats who have raised serious alarms as Trump appeared to side with Putin’s denials of interference in the 2016 election.
One of Trump’s most stalwart defenders, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, tweeted following the summit saying it was “the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected – immediately.”
President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) July 16, 2018
Trump instead chose to highlight one of his lone Republican backers Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who said the backlash was instead evidence of “Trump derangement syndrome.”
“Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “‘The President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations – what’s he supposed think?'”
None of Trump’s cabinet members have rushed to Trump’s defense amid the controversy, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a statement Monday standing by the Intelligence Community’s assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
However, in an attempt to justify the president’s performance, the White House notably circulated talking points obtained by ABC News to surrogates and Republican allies on Capitol Hill late Monday evening as the president landed back in Washington.
The talking points seem to contradict what the president said standing alongside Putin, listing the previous times Trump said he “thinks” Russia meddled and one appearance in 2017 when he said, “I’m with our agencies.”
The narrative being pushed by the White House runs counter to Trump’s own comments just yesterday saying he doesn’t “see any reason why” Russia would be interfering in the election, and called Putin’s denial of meddling “strong and powerful.”
Instead, the White House shared Trump’s “real record on Russia” to Republicans “to push back on the false and hysterical claims currently being pushed by some of those on the left and in the media.”