House Speaker Paul Ryan issued sharp criticism Monday for President Donald Trump’s Helsinki press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Ryan said in a press release, adding “the president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
Trump appeared to give some credence to Putin’s claim that he did not not interference in the 2016 presidential election despite being told the opposite by his intelligence community leaders. “I have confidence in both parties,” Trump said, adding that he didn’t see any reason why Russia would interference on his behalf.
Trump’s answer has been sharply criticized some Republican lawmakers including Sens. Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker, and Trey Gowdy.
Ben Sasse: “When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.” pic.twitter.com/U0VdZACcPQ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 16, 2018
Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.
This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves. (1/3)
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
Senator Bob Corker reacts to Trump-Putin summit: “I did not think this was a good moment for our country.” pic.twitter.com/AKa3pwuWKR
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) July 16, 2018
“Russia is not our friend. Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election, and sow the seeds of discord among Americans,” Gowdy said.