The Latest: Comey urges voters to support Democrats in fall
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin (all times local):
James Comey, the FBI director who was fired last year by President Donald Trump, is urging voters to support Democrats in November’s midterm elections.
Comey says on Twitter that the “Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that ‘Ambition must ... counteract ambition.’” That refers to the need for Congress to provide checks and balances to presidential power.
Comey writes: “All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. ... History has its eyes on us.”
The former FBI director recently said he no longer considers himself a Republican.
On Monday, after Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Comey tweeted, “This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country.”
President Donald Trump is straining to “clarify” his public undermining of American intelligence agencies, saying he simply misspoke when he said he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
Trump says, “The sentence should have been, ’I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia” instead of “why it would.”
Trump had made the comment Monday while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
On Tuesday, Trump didn’t reverse other statements in which he gave clear credence to Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial of Russian involvement, raised doubts about his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions and advanced discredited conspiracy theories about election meddling.
President Donald Trump says he entered negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin “from a position of tremendous strength” because of a “booming” U.S. economy and strong military.
Trump says he and Putin discussed a number of issues, including the civil war in Syria, efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel.
The president says the two leaders also discussed North Korea. He says, “Russia has assured us of its support” and discussions are ongoing.
He says Putin “will be involved” in efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons from North Korea and sanctions will remain in place on the North.
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady is telling President Donald Trump that the House will soon pursue legislation to make permanent the 2017 tax cuts for individuals.
Brady says during a meeting with Trump and other lawmakers that the House plans to vote in September on making the tax cuts permanent. The cuts are currently expected to expire at the end of 2025.
Brady is predicting that the tax package could add 1.5 million jobs to the U.S. economy.
President Donald Trump says his administration will “move aggressively to repel any efforts” to interfere in the upcoming midterm elections.
Trump says the White House is doing “everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018.”
The president told reporters he accepts the American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. But he is continuing to deny that his campaign colluded in the effort.
The president spoke a day after he returned from his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Trump has faced an avalanche of criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike for declining to condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 election or declining to say he believes U.S. intelligence agencies instead of Russia’s denials of interference.
President Donald Trump says he meant the opposite when he said in Helsinki that he doesn’t see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Back at the White House on Tuesday, the president told reporters that he said he meant he doesn’t see why Russia “wouldn’t” be responsible.
He also said he accepts the American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election, but he denied that his campaign had colluded in the effort.
Trump spoke a day after returning to the U.S. to nearly universal condemnation of his performance at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s side in Helsinki. Putin said he wanted Trump to win the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In Helsinki, Trump delivered no condemnation of Russia’s interference and refused to say he believes American intelligence agencies over Russia’s denials of meddling.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is calling NATO the “most significant military alliance in history.” In remarks to reporters Tuesday, McConnell said “the European countries are our friends and the Russians are not.”
McConnell says there is “indisputable evidence” Russia tried to affect the 2016 presidential election. He says the Senate understands the “Russia threat” and that is the “widespread view here in the United States Senate among members of both parties.”
McConnell’s words came just minutes before President Donald Trump was expected to speak about the Helsinki summit on Monday. They seemed aimed at sending a clear message both to Trump and the Europeans.
At the summit, Trump appeared to favor Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial of Russian meddling over the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did try to interfere.
Trump also at varying times in his European trip disparaged the NATO alliance, which was formed to counter the former Soviet Union.
House Republicans have used a party-line vote to block a Democratic measure aimed at condemning President Donald Trump’s stunning comments in Helsinki, Finland, about Russia. It was the first vote testing how Congress will react to Trump’s remarks.
On Monday, Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin and challenged American intelligence agencies’ findings that Moscow had interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. He seemed to accept Putin’s insistence that his government had done nothing.
By 230-183, the House rejected a Democratic measure endorsing Speaker Paul Ryan’s remarks criticizing Russia. The Wisconsin Republican said “there is no question” Russia interfered in the elections and said there is “no moral equivalence” between the two countries.
The two-page Democratic proposal summarized Ryan’s points and said the House “expresses its agreement” with them.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to brief Capitol Hill about President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sen. Bob Corker told reporters that Pompeo will “hopefully” come before the panel next week.
The Tennessee Republican sees it as a “first step” as lawmakers consider responding to the Trump-Putin summit.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said senators want Pompeo to come up “to tell us, was there any deal struck in that two hour meeting?”
Lawmakers were floating various responses after Trump publicly doubted the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and suggested he believed Putin’s denials.
Corker said: “We want to think through what we do so it benefits our country.”
President Donald Trump will make remarks Tuesday afternoon about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as he faces mounting criticism from allies and foes alike about his failure to publicly condemn Russian election meddling.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will speak about Monday’s summit with Putin in Helsinki before a scheduled 2 p.m. meeting with Republican members of Congress at the White House.
The White House says Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas and five other lawmakers are to be in attendance. The meeting had been set to be about tax policy.
The No. 2 Senate Republican says there may be additional sanctions on Russia in the upheaval following President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters that sanctions might draw bipartisan support because Democrats have also backed the idea. “We could find common ground to turn the screws on Russia,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn suggested sanctions legislation as an alternative to plans for a resolution supporting the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
A resolution —as some in the House are suggesting— is “just some messaging exercise,” said Cornyn.
No votes are scheduled yet as lawmakers are consider various ways to respond after Trump, at the summit, suggested he believed the Russian president’s denials of election interference, rather than the findings of the U.S. intelligence agencies.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for immediate hearings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials to learn more about President Donald Trump’s private meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn).
Schumer says the American people deserve to know what, if anything, Trump promised Putin during the two-hour sitdown in Helsinki that included just the two leaders and their interpreters. Additional meetings later included senior aides to both men.
Schumer said Trump showed “abject weakness and sycophancy” in failing to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election. He said Trump’s public remarks make it even more important to learn what happened behind closed doors, calling it a matter of national security.
Schumer also urged the Senate to take up bipartisan bills boosting security of U.S. elections.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s willing to consider additional sanctions on Russia, but there’s no rush to act.
Ryan had pointedly reminded President Donald Trump on Monday “that Russia is not our ally,” after Trump cast doubt on U.S. intelligence findings of election meddling by Vladimir Putin’s operatives.
On Tuesday, Ryan underscored that Russia did interfere in the 2016 elections and is a “menacing government” that does not share U.S. values. He said Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation.
But the Republican leader did not suggest the House will be responding legislatively any time soon.
“Let’s be very clear just so everybody knows: Russia did meddle with our elections,” Ryan said. “What we intend to do is make sure they don’t get away with it again, and also to help our allies.”
House Democrats say they will try to force a vote affirming the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, and endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement rebuking President Donald Trump.
Trump on Monday questioned the intelligence agencies’ findings at a press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ryan issued a statement afterward saying there’s “no question” that Russia interfered and “the president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
In a letter to colleagues, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats will use a procedural move to try and force votes on the issue Tuesday. Pelosi said that Trump’s “total weakness in the presence of Putin proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry says it’s ready to boost cooperation with the U.S. military in Syria, following talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it’s ready for “practical implementation” of agreements reached by Trump and Putin.
It said Russia’s military leadership is ready to augment contacts with U.S. counterparts on “cooperation in Syria” and extending the START arms control treaty, but gave no details.
Putin said Russia and the U.S. reached common ground on Syria at Monday’s talks but gave few details.
The U.S. and Russia have backed opposite sides of Syria’s war, but U.S. and Russian officials are working toward an eventual deal on the balance of regional power in post-war Syria.
President Donald Trump is unbowed by bipartisan criticism of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a Tuesday tweet the President calls the Monday summit in Helsinki “even better” than his meeting with NATO allies last week in Brussels.
Trump is facing bipartisan criticism for his refusal to publicly challenge Putin over Russia’s election hacking and for doubting U.S. intelligence agency conclusions about Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. Trump backers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have criticized his performance.
Trump is taking aim at a familiar target — the media — saying his NATO meeting was “great” but that he “had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way - the Fake News is going Crazy!”
Even hosts on the Trump-preferred Fox News have been critical of his handling of the summit.
Some lawmakers are talking about passing a resolution in support of U.S. intelligence agencies after President Donald Trump appeared to cast doubt on their findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, tells CNN the talk picked up following Trump’s Helsinki press conference. “Is that going to change anything?” he asked. “Probably not.” Congressional resolutions don’t carry the force of law.
Other Republican lawmakers have joined the criticism.
Sen. Ben Sasse-R-Neb., told CBS “This Morning” that “the president isn’t leading. We negotiated from a position of weakness yesterday. Vladimir Putin walked away with a win.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told CNN that Trump’s performance was “very embarrassing.”
But at least one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, dismissed the president’s critics as those who hate the president.
Trump tweeted his thanks.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci says President Donald Trump must waste no time in disavowing his Helsinki press conference comments, where Trump appeared to doubt U.S. intelligence and accepted Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian election meddling.
Trump made a “strategic mistake” Monday that will drive his supporters into an alliance with opposition Democrats, Scaramucci warned on CNN. “He’s got to reverse course.”
“I’d be issuing a statement,” Scaramucci added. He said Trump must quickly say that he misspoke and that “the evidence is obviously irrefutable.”
Scaramucci added, “The optics of the situation are a disaster.”
Swift and sweeping condemnation from Republicans as well as Democrats met President Donald Trump’s defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin and continued doubt over Russian election meddling.
Lawmakers and former intelligence officials appeared shocked, dismayed and uneasy with Trump’s suggestion Monday that he believes Putin’s denial over the assessment of U.S. intelligence officials and the Justice Department.
One of the sharpest reactions came from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who called Trump’s remarks in Helsinki “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
Other Republicans have been scathing, too. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska called it “bizarre,” Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona called it “shameful,” and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted that it was a “bad day for the US.”
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