USA senators push sanctions to send Putin election meddling warning

Melania Trump meets Putin

Melania's dazed expression after she met Putin

Trump's tweets on Thursday come as he has alternated between trying to quell a political uproar over his comments in Helsinki - he refused to back the USA intelligence community's assessment of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election during a joint news conference with Putin, instead touting Putin's strong denials - and his desire to not back down or apologize over his performance.

A meeting of U.S. and Russian presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin took place in the Finnish capital Helsinki on July 16.

Rubio, who ran against Trump in the Republican presidential primary in 2016 but exited after losing the Florida primary, said he would never stand with Putin. "There is simply no other way to explain why he would side with this Kremlin former KGB officer rather than his own intelligence agencies". And I think we're entitled to know.

Despite such publicly aired misgivings about Trump's dealings with Putin, Republicans largely continued to support, or at least condone, the president's insistence that the Mueller investigation is a "witch hunt".

"But the policies that this president has pursued globally have served Vladimir Putin's interest in dividing the west, undermining democracy, increasing fissures within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and has done very little to advance United States interests", she said.

The House member and former prosecutor - who has been on the receiving end of insults from the Republican president - then informed the ABC host that his investigators have been blocked by Republicans from being allowed to look at the Trump Organization's books.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said his Thursday comments at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado were not meant to be critical of the president's decision to invite Putin to a meeting in Washington later this year. "I think that the United States of America sometimes has to meet with people that we don't have anything in common with..."

Video: Trump on DNC Server
Donald Trump's intelligence chief says he meant no disrespect to president over Putin meeting

Trump subsequently said he misspoke, but has not acknowledged that he repeatedly put the U.S. intelligence community's assessment and Putin's denials on the same footing.

Coats, who oversees the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, also said that if he had been asked, he would have advised Trump against meeting Putin alone, with just interpreters. "So just to repeat it, I said the word "would" instead of 'wouldn't.'" "I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself", he added.

Mystification over Trump's invitation to the Russian leader is compounded by the astounding prospect that the meeting with Putin will be in Washington in the fall, around the time of midterm elections, which U.S. intelligence agencies say are already being targeted by Russia.

The comments came up in a discussion of Trump's controversial appearance with Putin after a summit in Helsinki. White House officials have argued that Page, announced by the president in early 2016 as a foreign policy adviser, played only a minor role in the Trump campaign.

Trump initially appeared receptive to Putin's offer, calling it an "incredible offer" at last Monday's press conference.

"Just have sanctions that can fall on Russian Federation like a hammer", Graham said on CBS' "Face the Nation". "He thinks the way to make Russian Federation stronger is to weaken America and as long as we're clear about it, I think it's important that the nations speak to one another and that our leaders speak to one another". Putin also defended their summit, saying that the two leaders were working to improve political relations between the two countries, reported the Independent.

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