HELSINKI, Finland (CBS NEWS) – Following a day of discussions between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Mr. Trump left Monday’s summit neglecting to hold Putin accountable for Russia’s role in interfering in the 2016 presidential election — saving most of his criticism for America itself.
“I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think that we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time, frankly, before I got to office,” Mr. Trump said during a joint press conference with Putin.
Offered multiple chances to denounce Russia’s actions, Mr. Trump instead placed blame on the FBI and said that he had “confidence” in both parties — the intelligence community and Russia.
“All I can do is ask the question – my people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be but I really want to see the server but, I have confidence in both parties,” Mr. Trump said.
He went so far as to say that Putin’s denial of having been involved in the election was “extremely strong and powerful.” Putin instead reiterated past claims that the “Russian state” has never and is not going to ever interfere in U.S. internal affairs, including elections, and offered to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller an opportunity to request to interrogate and question 12 Russian nationals indicted in his probe on Russian soil.
Mr. Trump meanwhile hailed the summit as being a success after for dialogue between the two nations following a private one-on-one discussion that lasted 2 hours long.
“The world wants to see us get along,” Mr. Trump remarked earlier during the leaders’ first formal meeting, adding, “I think we’ll end up having an extraordinary relationship.”
Trump calls European Union a “foe” before meeting Putin
The president’s top national security advisers had advised him publicly and privately to adopt a more hawkish tone towards Russia going into the summit, especially given the Justice Department’s announcement Friday — days before his meeting — of a new round of indictments against 12 Russians for their alleged attempts to interfere in the presidential election.
Reaction pours in after summit
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona tweeted that the president’s press conference was “shameful”, adding that he never thought he’d see a day when the president “would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that there’s “no question” Russia interfered in the U.S. elections, citing the findings of U.S. intelligence community and separate Congressional committee investigations.
“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. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy,” Ryan added.
Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, called the meeting a “missed opportunity to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan meanwhile took a much harsher route, tweeting that the president’s performance in Helsinki was “nothing short of treasonous.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s blame of the U.S. for the deterioration of relations with Russia was “bizarre and flat-out wrong.”
“The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs,” Sasse added.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Bob Mendez of New Jersey called the meeting “disturbing, shameful, jaw-dropping and disgraceful.”
“I am running out of words to describe how despicable it is to see an American President capitulate to a dictator,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Mark Warner, Vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the president’s blame on the U.S. for Russian interference, a “complete disgrace.”
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called it a “sad day for America.” She added that Mr. Trump’s “weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the President, personally, financially or politically.”
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, meanwhile said the president’s refusal to acknlowledge that Putin had a role int he U.S. elections “should alarm us all.”
“The president’s unwillingness to stand up to him and defend our nation is unacceptable and embarrassing,” Nelson added.
Later President Trump tweeted about what he said during the news conference.
Trump, Putin end summit with no clear resolution
The joint press conference ends and the president’s summit with Putin comes to a close without any real resolution to ongoing tensions with Russia. Mr. Trump now heads back to the United States due to arrive later Monday evening.
Trump says Putin was “strong” in his denial of election interference
“All I can do is ask the question,” Mr. Trump said when asked if he would take the time to officially denounce President Putin for influencing the election and demand he not do so again.
Mr. Trump instead proceeded to blame the FBI and ask “what happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails.”
The president said that while he has “confidence” in both parties — the intelligence community and Russia — Putin’s denial of meddling in the election was “extremely strong and powerful.”
When asked if Putin had any compromising or damaging information on Mr. Trump from his time in Russia, Putin told reporters that he had heard of such a rumor, but that when Mr. Trump visited Russia for the Miss Universe pageant, he claimed, “I didn’t even know he was in Moscow.”
“Back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, no one informed me he was in Moscow,” claimed Putin.
Mr. Trump responded as well, saying that if Russia had any compromising material on him, “it would have been out long ago.”
Putin jokes ball is in Trump’s court, hands over soccer ball
Putin gifted Mr. Trump with a World Cup soccer ball, saying that now the “ball is in your court.” Mr. Trump threw the ball to his wife Melania.
Did Putin want Trump to win? “Yes” he says
Asked if Putin wanted Mr. Trump to win the 2016 presidential election amid concerns that Russia had a hand in interfering in the election process, Putin replied: “Yes, I did, yes I did, because he talked about bringing U.S.-Russia relations back to normal.”
Putin suggest he’d “look into” extraditing indicted Russians
Putin suggested that based on existing agreements, the U.S. should send requests to allow Russian law enforcement to interrogate and question the Russian indicted in Mueller’s probe.
He said he’d even permit Mueller’s team to be present for such questioning. He noted, however that Russia would expect the same treatment from Americans and reciprocate.
Mr. Trump later called Putin’s suggestion an “incredible offer.”
Trump says he holds U.S. and Russia accountable for 2016 interference
“I think the U.S. has been foolish, I think we’ve all been foolish we all should’ve had this dialogue long time ago,” said Mr. Trump when asked if he holds Russia accountable for anything. ”
“We both have made some mistakes,” he added, once again slamming special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as a “disaster for our country.” He defended himself saying that there was “nobody to collude with.”
Putin, Trump address natural gas pipeline
Mr. Trump said that the two nations would be competing with regards to a natural gas pipeline. He said he was “not sure necessarily it’s in the best interest of Germany” to pursue a deal with Russia.
Putin meanwhile suggested as two major oil and gas power producers, Russia and the U.S. could work together on the regulation of international markets.
“Neither of us is interested in the plummeting of the prices and the consumers will suffer as well,” said Putin.
Trump says summit “only the beginning of a longer process”
The president hailed Monday’s meeting as a “first step toward a brighter future and one toward a strong dialogue and a lot of thought.”
He said that he expects the U.S. and Russia to participate in more dialogue sometime in the future.
Trump says Putin “wants” to address interference, denuclearization
While vague, Mr. Trump said that the two leaders spent a “great deal of time” talking about the issue of election interference, suggesting that Putin “may want to address it and very strongly because he feels very strongly about it and he has an interesting idea.”
On nuclear proliferation, Mr. Trump said he updated Putin on his meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“After today I am very sure that President Putin and Russia want very much to end that problem and they’re going to work with us and I appreciate that commitment,” Mr. Trump said.
Trump calls summit “deeply productive”
Mr. Trump said he engaged in “deeply productive dialogue” with Putin that “went very well.”
He said that disagreements between the two countries are “well known” and were discussed at length in the leaders’ private meeting.
“If we’re going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we’re going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests.”
He claimed that the poor relationship with Russia has effectively “changed” as a result of the summit.
Putin again denies Russian interference in 2016
President Putin addressed the issue of “so-called interference” in the 2016 presidential elections, saying during his meeting with Mr. Trump he reiterated his statements from the past.
“The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into American internal affairs including the election process,” Putin said. He said, however, that Russia is ready to “analyze” the issue together for through a joint working group on cyber security with the U.S.
Putin says “Cold War” over at start of joint press conference
President Putin said discussions with Mr. Trump were conducted in a “frank and business-like atmosphere.”
“I think we can call it a success,” he added, urging that the U.S. and Russia need to solve world issues together.
“The current tension and atmosphere essentially have no solid reason behind it. The cold war is a thing of the past,” said Putin.
On nuclear proliferation, Putin acknlowedged that as two of the world’s leading nuclear powers Russia and the U.S. “bear special responsibility for maintaining international security.”
The Russian leader also adressed the ongoing crisis in Syria saying that the task of peace and reconciliation could be a showcase of the joint effort between the U.S. and Russia.
Man removed before joint press conference
CBS News’ Arden Farhi reports that a person claiming to be a reporter from “The Nation” was forcibly escorted from the press conference room by security agents.
Initially he cooperated with security and walked out of the room. When he returned, he said he was being accused of having a sign. He denied that and then brandished a piece of notebook paper with the message “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.”