Attendee removed from room ahead of Trump-Putin press conference

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Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, says that President Trump "isn't leading" after a stunning performance in Helsinki, Finland on Monday where he neglected to rebuke Russia's interference in the 2016 election and stood by Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims that the Russian state did not meddle in the USA election process.

"Today's press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory". The damage inflicted by President Trump's naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is hard to calculate.

He added: "No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant".

Trump on his intelligence officials: "They said they think it's Russian Federation".

"We had direct, open, deeply productive dialogue", Trump said.

He just said it's not Russian Federation.

Mr Trump said that his country and Russian Federation are "not very far apart on Syria" on how to resolve the conflict.

During the press conference, Trump maneuvered around questions regarding whether he trusted the United States intelligence committee's reports on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. When Putin first mentioned it during his opening statement- "The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs" - there was an audible intake of breath as American reporters leaned forward in their seats and prepared to transcribe the translated words coming through their headsets. When presented with the ludicrous suggestion of inviting Russian intelligence to participate in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe of that interference, he called it "an incredible offer".

"It's amusing to recall the nonsense from Obama et al about Russia being a weak "regional power", Alexey Pushkov, a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, referring to former U.S. President Barack Obama.

At the news conference, Trump was invited by reporters to offer any criticism of Russian Federation, but he repeatedly declined.

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While long-time Trump supporter Newt Gingrich, a former Republican Speaker of the House, called it Mr Trump's "most serious mistake".

"[Russia] remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals".

Mr Putin said of the collusion claims that there is "no evidence when it comes to the actual facts". After his electoral victory, which caught even Trump by surprise, the president reluctantly acknowledged Russian meddling in the election - the unanimous consensus of the intelligence community - while in the same breath suggesting other countries could be responsible.

The reaction in the United States was immediate and visceral among fellow Republicans and usual Trump critics.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, July 16, 2018.

The language used by Democrats was much harsher, including accusations of "treason".

President Trump later tweeted to say that he has "great confidence" in his intelligence agencies.

"I think these people are mistaken", Paul told the Associated Press. "Between draconian laws and website blocking, the pressure on independent media has grown steadily since Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin in 2012", the group says.

"The most disgraceful conduct by an American president"?

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