Trump Is Fighting the Entire Republican Party to Defend Putin

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In Helsinki, as Putin looked on, Trump said the following to a question about whether he believed United States intelligence agencies, or Putin's denials of interference: "My people came to me ... they said they think it's Russian Federation". "I said the word "would" instead of 'wouldn't, '" Trump told reporters at the White House.

"Let's be very clear, just so everybody knows: Russian Federation did meddle with our elections", said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican who represents Maine's 2nd District and is up for re-election in November, made perhaps his most forceful statement to date about Russia's interference but did not criticize the president directly.

During that press conference, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week's federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Some US lawmakers have suggested passing resolutions to voice support for intelligence agencies or to invest more in election security and preventing cyber attacks.

Mr Trump said: "I realise there's a need for some clarification", adding that what he meant "should have been obvious - I thought it would be obvious but would like to clarify in case it wasn't".

Claiming he misspoke, President Donald Trump reversed his controversial comments denying Russian meddling in the 2016 election after a summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki Monday. He said he holds both countries responsible for election interference and called the Robert Mueller probe "a disaster for our country".

"The bottom line: Russian Federation is not our ally", he said. "The worry is that an emboldened Russian Federation will do things that will increase the risk and security uncertainty".

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"In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word "would" instead of 'wouldn't, ' " Trump said Tuesday. First lady Melania Trump was also aboard and was involved in some of the discussions, but not all of them, the people familiar with the matter said.

"To me, it's the only question that interests the American press", reporter Yegor Kolyvanov said on NTV, a Kremlin-controlled national TV channel.

After resounding bipartisan backlash - including stern consternation from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump ally Sen.

"Given the unfriendliness of the press toward the president, why should we focus on a press conference?"

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen offered a scathing assessment on Twitter, writing: "President Trump's performance in Helsinki was embarrassing".

"We stand by our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and all those countries who are facing Russian aggression", Ryan said.

"Trump essentially disowned the results of his own intelligence services and believed Vladimir Putin", said William Pomeranz, the deputy director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said congressional leaders were searching for the most effective response.