Trump faces bipartisan rebuke over ‘treasonous’ summit with Putin
Republican politicians in the US have joined the Democrats and intelligence officials in denouncing President Donald Trump's failure to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin over interference in the US elections, calling his response as "shameful" and "disgraceful".
John McCain, the senior Republican senator, said Trump's seeming acceptance of Putin's denial was a historical "low point" for the US presidency and the Helsinki summit between the two leaders a "tragic mistake".
McCain said the joint press conference between Trump and Putin in Helsinki "was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory".
"The damage inflicted by President Trump's naivete, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate," McCain said in a blistering statement.
"No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant."
Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said there was "nearly universal" criticism of Trump's actions in Helsinki.
Taking direct issue with the president who appointed him, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said US spy agencies have been "clear" and "fact-based" in their assessment that Moscow interfered in the presidential race two years ago – an assessment that Trump refused to endorse in Helsinki.
Coats added that Russia remains behind "ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy".
Trump stunned US political allies and foes alike with his answer to a question about Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 election which saw him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Putin "just said it is not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be," Trump said, adding that "President Putin was extremely strong in his denial today."
That came three days after the US Department of Justice indicted 12 Russians for hacking Democratic Party computers.