Putin attacks Trump’s summit critics

180

International desk, July 19: Russian President Vladimir Putin has rounded on US critics of his first bilateral summit with President Donald Trump.Certain forces in the US wanted to sacrifice US-Russian ties for their “narrow party interests”, he told a meeting of Russian diplomats in Moscow.

“They are feeding millions of their people stories,” he said.

Mr Trump has been accused of taking a soft line on Russia, which denies meddling in the 2016 US election.

Days of controversy and confusion have followed Monday’s summit in Helsinki, where President Trump appeared to support Mr Putin’s contention that there was no Russian interference in the presidential election which saw Mr Trump gain power.

It followed meetings with fellow Nato leaders and a trip to the UK, which saw Mr Trump take a far harder line in public with longstanding allies than subsequently with Mr Putin.

On Thursday, Mr Trump accused opponents of preferring to go to war rather than seeing good relations with Russia.

Despite the controversy, Republican voters seem to be sticking by Mr Trump.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week found that despite a firestorm of media criticism, Mr Trump’s Finland summit had no real impact on his overall approval ratings.

In the survey, 42% of all registered voters approved of his job performance, which is consistent with averages thus far.

Some 71% of Republicans polled approved of his response to Russia, while only 14% of Democrats were in favour.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump insisted that he had “misspoken” during the summit press conference when he appeared to side with Mr Putin over claims of Kremlin meddling in US elections.

It came as US intelligence chief Dan Coats said Russia was involved in “ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy”.

During an interview with CBS News on Wednesday, Mr Trump said that he would consider Mr Putin personally responsible for any Russian interference.

“Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country,” he said. “So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.”

Mr Trump added that he was “very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling” in his conversation behind closed doors in Helsinki with Russia’s leader.

US lawmakers are calling for a court demand to be issued for the notes of the US translator who accompanied Mr Trump to his two-hour meeting with Mr Putin.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to testify before the Senate next week about the summit.

Source: Agencies