Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Did John Kelly Make Trump Backtrack Comments On Russian Meddling In Helsinki?

Did John Kelly Make Trump Backtrack Comments On Russian Meddling In Helsinki?

The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday, a day after President Donald Trump discussed Syria and other topics with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, that it is ready to implement what it called agreements on increased cooperation with the USA military in Syria.

His reaction came as Trump fired off a series of tweets Thursday in which he slammed the "Fake News Media" for their "total fiction" reports - and accused the mainstream press of hoping for a confrontation between the two countries.

Trump on Thursday listed the topics discussed as "stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more".

Trump came under attack from both Republicans and Democrats, as well as in the news media, for what critics said was his failure to publicly confront the Russian leader over Moscow's meddling in the 2016 USA election. In a press conference afterwards though, Trump embraced a view pressed by Russian Federation for years that the USA shares the blame for the state of bad relations with Moscow and lashed out at the US special counsel investigation into whether there had been collusion between his presidential campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 election.

President Trump said: "My people came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russian Federation".

"We will see how things develop further", Putin said, evoking those in the USA trying to prevent any improvement in relations and "putting narrow party interests above the national interest".

Russian officials have shrugged off Trump's wildly contradictory accounts of what he said to Putin at Monday's summit.

Speaking in Moscow, Putin also called the summit "successful overall" and claimed that it led to "some useful agreements", without being specific.

The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said he still does not know what Trump and Putin discussed on Monday and was caught off-guard during an interview Thursday by news that Trump and Putin were planning a second meeting in Washington this fall. Some lawmakers were also upset by Mr Trump when he declined to offer any particular criticism for the state of US-Russia relations, saying instead "I think we've all been foolish".

"No new guidance for me as a result of the Helsinki discussions as of yet", General Joe Votel, who heads US Central Command, told reporters.

While just one third of Americans - and eight percent of Democrats - approve of Trump's handling of the Putin summit, fully 68 per cent of Republicans approve, according to the CBS poll.

The White House is facing further criticism for not ruling out a Russian proposal to question U.S. citizens accused by the Kremlin of "illegal activities".

Foreign policy analysts also pushed back on Trump's view that the only alternative to a "good" relationship with Putin is war.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told CNBC on Wednesday that Trump "gravitates toward personalities that are strong personalities". "And I would say that that is true, yeah".

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday that although Putin's charges against McFaul and other Americans are "absolutely absurd", she was not prepared to speak on behalf of the department and say that her agency opposed the idea of some kind of handover.

Trump was severely criticized for failing to challenge Putin, a former KGB agent, during their joint press conference - a performance USA lawmakers from both parties deemed risky and an embarrassment. Still, Trump backtracked on whether Russian Federation is now targeting USA elections. "I'll have to think long and hard about that one". "Problem is", Trump said.

Senator Lindsay Graham of SC took the president to task via Twitter over Trump's apparent inability or decision not to hold Russian operatives accountable.

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