by WorldTribune Staff, July 16, 2018
U.S.-Russia relations “have never been worse” but “that changed as of about four hours ago,” U.S. President Donald Trump said on July 16 after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He then sparked bipartisan Washington outrage by challenging the U.S intelligence community investigation of alleged Russian collusion and publicly questioning the lack of FBI curiosity about the Democrat National Committee servers said to have been hacked, the Pakistan-born IT worker Imran Awan for Democrat members of Congress and former FBI lead investigator Peter Strzok.
Trump said the talks in Helsinki were “direct, open and deeply productive.”
Putin as expected denied Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election. U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the Kremlin acted to influence the vote to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. Critics have questioned the factual basis for such assessments.
“I had to repeat that the Russian state never interfered, and does not plan to interfere in internal American electoral process,” Putin said, describing the claims as “complete nonsense.”
Asked by an Associated Press reporter whether his trusted U.S. intelligence or the word of President Putin, Trump made statements that were promptly denounced as “treasonous” by President Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan and “disgraceful” by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.
“I will say this,” the president said in comments that have not been quoted directly in the media coverage that followed.
“I really do want to see the (DNC) server. … I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC?”
Related: Imran Awan walks: DOJ agrees to plea deal with only one count of bank fraud – July 5, 2108
Trump also asked, “Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee. I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying.”
During the press conference, Trump noted that he has “great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 (indicted Russian) people. I think that’s an incredible offer.”
Trump added that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats “came to me and some others and said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
In an appearance on MSNBC, Brennan said that “even when the press gave him an opportunity to hold Russia accountable for anything, he chose to talk about Hillary Clinton, about his election, about servers. He criticized American citizens, Secretary Clinton and others as opposed to really taking advantage of a world stage, with all the world’s eyes upon them, to point out how unacceptable Russia’s behavior and interference in our election and the elections of other democratic countries around the globe is. But he just shirked those responsibilities. I cannot understand how the national security team can continue to abide by this and how Pompeo and Bolton and Kelly can continue in their jobs.”
In his opening remarks, Trump said: ‘Most importantly we have a lot of good things to talk about … we have discussions on everything from trade to military, to missiles, to nuclear, to China, we’ll be talking a little bit about China – our mutual friend President Xi.”
Trump added: “I really think the world wants to see us get along. We are the two great nuclear powers. We have 90 percent of the nuclear – and that’s not a good thing it’s a bad thing. I think we can hopefully do something about that because it is not a positive force it is a negative force so we’ll be talking about that among other things.”