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As reported by Reuters, US President Donald Trump is being lambasted by US lawmakers from both sides of the line after Trump failed to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russian election meddling, which recently saw 12 Russian nationals indicted. President Trump chose to side with Putin on the meddling accusations, with Trump stating that he saw no reason to believe his own country’s intelligence agencies.

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“A wave of condemnation immediately followed, with lawmakers calling Republican Trump “weak” and “cowardly,” while Senator John McCain said the summit was “a tragic mistake.” The war hero and former Republican presidential nominee, a frequent critic of the president, said Trump “failed to defend all that makes us who we are – a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a Republican and a Trump appointee, in an unusual statement responding to Trump’s remarks, stood by the U.S. agencies.  “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy,” Coats said.  On his way home, Trump insisted in a post on Twitter that he has “GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.”

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, said Russia undoubtedly interfered in the 2016 election.  “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,” said Ryan in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told reporters: “I’ve said a number of times and I’ll say it again. The Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.”  Trump’s eagerness to improve U.S. relations with Russia had been met with skepticism in Congress, where lawmakers nearly unanimously approved tough sanctions targeting Moscow in 2017.  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, said Trump’s comments next to Putin made the United States look like a “pushover.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the summit was a “missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning.  “This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves.”  Senator Susan Collins said Trump’s “position is untenable,” while Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, also a Republican, outlined Russian aggression on several fronts and said the United States “will not tolerate hostile Russian activities against us or our allies.”

Both Senate and House Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi went so far as to hint that Trump’s behavior might be explained by Putin possibly having some embarrassing information about Trump.  “For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak,” Schumer said.”