69°F
weather icon Clear

Democratic, GOP lawmakers critical of Trump performance

WASHINGTON — Key members of Congress, including some Republicans, are criticizing President Donald Trump’s performance at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “bizarre,” ”shameful” and a “missed opportunity” to stand up to Russia.

House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a strongly worded statement, saying there’s “no question” that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and noting that U.S. intelligence agencies and a House panel agreed.

“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Ryan said, in what was, for the mild-mannered speaker, akin to a reprimand. Ryan said Russia “remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”

Other high-profile Republicans also expressed dismay.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. “This is shameful.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called it “bizarre” and “flat-out wrong” for Trump to suggest that both the U.S. and Russia are to blame for the deteriorated state of the two countries’ relationship.

Even Trump’s sometimes ally Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the summit a “missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.”

Graham quipped that Trump ought to check a soccer ball Putin gave to Trump for listening devices, “and never allow it in the White House.”

The Republican rebuke from Capitol Hill came largely from those lawmakers who have been willing to openly criticize the president. But key Republicans, Democrats and others in Washington appeared stunned that Trump refused to publicly condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election or warn against future meddling during the joint press conference with Putin in Finland.

‘A disaster’

Trump appeared to take the Russian president’s denial of interference at face value while calling the U.S.’s own Justice Department special counsel’s probe as a “disaster.” That U.S. investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, unveiled an indictment Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

At the joint appearance in Finland with Putin, Trump repeated the Russian leader’s denials about involvement in the election.

“He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said of Putin. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Former intelligence chiefs who served under President Barack Obama were scathing in their criticism of his remarks. John Brennan, who served as CIA director between 2013 and January 2017, called the president’s comments “treasonous.”

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???” Brennan tweeted.

James Clapper, who was director of national intelligence under Obama between 2010 and 2017, described Trump remarks as “truly unbelievable.”

“On the world stage in front of the entire globe the president of the United States essentially capitulated and seems intimidated by Vladimir Putin,” Clapper told CNN. “It was amazing and very, very disturbing.”

Clapper described Putin as an “arch enemy of the United States” who seeks to undermine its democracy and elections. “He has got to be celebrating on the way home to Moscow.”

Sounding alarms

Democrats sounded similar alarm. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted, “For the President to side with Putin over his own intelligence officials and blame the United States for Russia’s attack on our democracy is a complete disgrace.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader, says never in the history of the country has a president supported an American adversary the way Trump supported Putin. “For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak.”

Yet while Trump’s remarks drew criticism in both parties, the reaction was more muted from the Republican side. Key GOP lawmakers at least initially refrained from directly attacking Trump’s performance, and at least one echoed the president’s criticism of the special counsel probe.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California he takes the charges filed by Mueller’s team seriously, but added, “I personally would neither rule in nor rule out the validity of a very interesting and odd-timed indictment of people who can never be brought to justice.”

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Thousands gather for Trump rally
Thousands showed up for President Donald Trump’s rally Friday morning, forming a line that stretched nearly a quarter mile around the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, where President Trump will held a rally on Friday in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
President Trump lands in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Donald Trump landed in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as part of a four-day western state swing. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Long lines during early voting in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The final day of the Nevada Democratic Party’s early presidential caucuses wrapped up Tuesday, as thousands of Democrats lined up at 55 locations around the state for their last shot at filing an early preference card before the traditional caucuses on Saturday. Long lines were seen at CSN Charleston in Las Vegas. (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Last day for early voting at Culinary Union - VIDEO
Voters were still in line just before 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as early voting in the Nevada Democratic Party caucuses came to a close. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tuesday is last day to early vote in Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucuses ends Tuesday, with sites open throughout Clark County. (Michael Quine and James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk pay for child care workers - Video
Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk to care in action about the importance of Medicare for All, paid leave and child care. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Elizabeth Warren barnstorms Nevada ahead of caucuses - VIDEO
Warren is trying to drum up enthusiasm about her campaign after finishing fourth in the New Hampshire primary. Her rally drew about 400 people to the student union of the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Jacky Rosen encourages early voting at Culinary Workers 226 - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., spoke to those casting early caucus votes at the Culinary Workers hall on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucuses continues Tuesday. The Nevada Caucuses are Saturday, Feb. 22. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2020 candidates rally in Southern Nevada ahead of caucus - VIDEO
2020 candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders held rallies all over Southern Nevada on Saturday ahead of the Democratic caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
First day of early voting - VIDEO
Nevada Democrats turned out in force on Saturday for the first day of early voting in the Democratic presidential caucuses.
Biden and Sully Sullenberger speak in Henderson - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden and famed pilot Sully Sullenberger spoke at Sun City MacDonald Ranch to get out the vote for early voting for the Nevada caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: Bernie Sanders leads Democratic presidential candidates - VIDEO
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the presidential field by a solid margin among likely Democratic caucus-goers heading into Nevada’s four-day early voting period, with with 25 percent of respondents expressing support. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: caucus vs. primary - VIDEO
A new Nevada Poll finds two-thirds of likely Democratic caucus-goers surveyed in a Review-Journal poll say they’d like to see Nevada replace its caucuses with a secret-ballot primary election to determine support for a presidential nominee. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus events Leading up to Caucus Day 2020 - VIDEOl
As presidential candidates make their way to Las Vegas, here's a look at events, dates and times for the days leading up to Nevada's Caucus Day 2020 on Feb. 22. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus and Early Voting - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus discussion with Steve Sebelius about the Nevada Caucus and early voting.
Caucus 101: Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucus - VIDEO
The who, what, when, where and hows of early voting before and on caucus day in Nevada. (Renee Summerour and Bizuayehu Tesfaye /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus Discussion with Steve Sebelius. Join us as we discuss the Nevada Caucus process.
Dina Titus speaks on Biden and Nevada's importance - VIDEO
Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus sat down with political reporter Rory Appleton to discuss Joe Biden and Nevada's place in the 2020 election.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Caucus 101: How to caucus - VIDEO
How does the caucus work in Nevada? Shelby Wiltz, the caucus director for the Nevada State Democratic party takes us through the process. (Renee Summerour and James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump administration OKs new water rule - VIDEO
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a new rule Thursday replacing a 2015 definition of “navigable waters” created in the Obama administration that farmers, developers and others found overly restrictive. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Intel officials say Russia boosting Trump’s candidacy

Intelligence officials have warned lawmakers that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election campaign to help President Donald Trump get reelected, three officials familiar with the closed-door briefing said Thursday.

Women of color see big opportunity in Nevada caucuses

As Nevada Democrats prepare to caucus on Saturday, capping off a week where presidential hopefuls blitzed the state for votes, activists warned against dismissing a powerful segment of the electorate: Women of color.