Vastavam web: Leading U.S. lawmakers, including numerous Republicans, criticized President Donald Trump on Monday for failing to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election as the two heads of nuclear powers stood side-by-side at a joint news conference. Trump, speaking in Helsinki after his first summit with Putin, said he saw no reason to believe his own country’s intelligence agencies over the Kremlin leader’s assurances that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election.
Trump will meet with members of Congress on Tuesday, the White House said without giving further details. On Friday, a U.S. special counsel unveiled indictments of 12 Russian spies on charges of hacking Democratic Party computers as part of election meddling, the second set of charges against Russians in a probe that Trump calls a political witch hunt.After the Helsinki summit, at least two senators – Republican Pat Toomey and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer – raised the possibility of imposing new punishment on Russia. Toomey said in a statement that unless Putin helps the United States prosecute Russians accused in the hacking, “the United States should impose tough new sanctions on Russia.”
Relations between Washington and Moscow have been at their lowest point in the post-Cold War era. Trump touted the summit as a chance to improve ties. Even before the allegations of Russian meddling, tensions were high over Moscow’s concerns about NATO expansion, Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and Russia’s military backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in its seven-year civil war. Trump’s eagerness to improve U.S. relations with Russia had been met with scepticism in Congress, where lawmakers nearly unanimously approved tough sanctions targeting Moscow in 2017. Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, weighed in after the summit.