After the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump garnered criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for siding with Putin against his own U.S. intelligence agencies’ claims that Russians interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Despite the 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted for hacking Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Mr. Trump said there had been no reason for Russia to meddle in the election process.
Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts of Trump’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, joined the chorus of Republicans telling the president that he was wrong to back Putin’s denial of Russian meddling in the 2016 election over the evidence-based findings of his own intelligence services.
Kilmeade addressed Trump directly with the following statement as reported by The Daily Beast.
“When Newt Gingrich, when Gen. Jack Keane, when Matt Schlapp say the president fell short and made our intelligence apparatus look bad, I think it’s time to pay attention and it’s easily correctable from the president’s perspective. Nobody’s perfect, especially [after] 10 intensive days of summits, private meetings, and everything on his plate. But that moment is the one that’s going to stand out unless he comes out and corrects it.”
One of the co-hosts of Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy, said that he found Mr. Trump’s response “puzzling” and criticized the president for not being “bold” enough to criticize Putin face to face, noting that the 71-year-old president has previously expressed the belief that Russia was responsible.
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) July 17, 2018
President Trump went on the defense on Twitter and claimed that the reports criticizing his press conference with Putin have been unfair.
The president claimed in a tweet that he convinced NATO to contribute $33 billion more in defense spending and he made a “weak” NATO strong again. This is seemingly a pushback to the accusations that Trump wants to weaken NATO to benefit Russia.
It is unclear what the long-term fallout will be following the criticism of the Helsinki summit. The conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal wrote that the press conference was “a personal and national embarrassment” for the president.
An early look at Tuesday's front… pic.twitter.com/BXsoZsIT4B
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 16, 2018
NY Daily News cover shows Trump shooting Uncle Sam while holding a smirking Putin’s hand with the caption “Open Treason.”
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky defended Trump following the summit and blamed “Trump-derangement syndrome” for the pushback, according to Business Insider. Paul also compared Trump’s efforts to have a good relationship with Russia to Obama’s attempts during the first term of his presidency.