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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued a statement on Monday forcefully combatting statements President Donald Trump made standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, when Trump claimed he didn’t “see any reason why it would be [Russia]” that meddled in the 2016 election after Putin said the country did not.

Ryan said there was “no question” that Russia interfered in the election and urged Trump to “appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”

“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. 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.”

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Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper joined the chorus of lawmakers, U.S. officials and former intelligence operatives who were dumbfounded by President Donald Trump’s performance during a presser with Putin.

Clapper said Trump’s meek behavior was “amazing and very, very disturbing.”

“You know, like everyone else, I’m struggling with some way to capture or describe what we just witnessed. It is truly unbelievable,” he told CNN Monday. “On the world stage in front of the entire globe, the President of the United States essentially capitulated and seems intimidated by Vladimir Putin. So it was amazing and very, very disturbing.”

“He just is very reticent about direct personal confrontation,” he continued. “So just as he did in the UK with Theresa May, bad mouth her in an interview, but yet when faced with a personal confrontation, a personal engagement, he won’t do it. It’s even worse when it’s our arch adversary, Russia, and his opposite person, Vladimir Putin. … While he likes to project the image of being a tough guy, he really isn’t.”

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Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (NE) issued a harsh retort to President Donald Trump’s unprecedented behavior during a presser with Vladimir Putin, countering Trump’s assertion that the U.S. is also to blame for the decline in relations with Russia and calling Trump’s comments “bizarre and flat-out wrong.”

“This is bizarre and flat-out wrong,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan reacted to President Donald Trump’s performance at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin with outrage on Monday, calling on Trump’s secretary of state, national security adviser and chief of staff to resign over the President’s behavior.

I cannot understand how the national security team can continue to abide by this and how Pompeo and Bolton and Kelly can continue in their jobs,” he told MSNBC after the press conference on Monday. “This, I think, rises to the point of good American patriots resigning in objection to that performance by Donald Trump. I’m at a loss of words to describe just how outrageous his words, his statements, his behavior has been.

“And one can only conclude that he fears Vladimir Putin and that one-on-one discussion, who knows what was discussed there,’ he continued. “And how Mr. Putin now is the master puppeteer of Donald Trump, the person who is in our oval office. Outrageous.”

Brennan tweeted similar remarks minutes earlier, calling the performance “treasonous.”

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CNN host Anderson Cooper responded to President Donald Trump’s behavior at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, calling it “one of the most disgraceful” performances by an American President in front of a Russian leader that he had ever seen.

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President Donald Trump on Monday said both the U.S. and Russia are to “blame” for the decline in relations between the two countries, adding, “we have both made some mistakes.”

“I hold both countries responsible,” he said. “I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we have all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. I think we’re all to blame.”

He then patted himself on the back for stepping “forward along with Russia” to open a dialogue and suggested they could “do some great things together,” specifically citing nuclear proliferation.

Ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Trump tweeted that it’s his predecessors’ “foolishness” and “stupidity,” as well as the Russia probe, that has pushed the relationship between the two powers to be worse than ever before.

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Following his one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which lasted two hours, President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday the discussion was a “very good start for everybody.”

Before the two went into a private meeting, Trump failed to mention that he would discuss Russian meddling in the 2016 election with Putin. He had previously told reporters that he would bring it up.

The summit follows an announcement from the Justice Department last week that it had indicted 12 Russian officials for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

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President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to hold a press conference at 9:50 a.m. EST Monday following their one-on-one meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

Watch live below:

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The Russian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account retweeted President Donald Trump’s criticism of U.S.-Russia relations, blaming years of poor dialogue with Russia on his predecessors and the Russia probe.

“We agree,” the MFA Russia account said, retweeting Trump saying the U.S. relationship with Russia has “NEVER been worse” thanks to America’s “foolishness and stupidity,” as well as special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.   

Trump’s summit with Putin falls on the heels of deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s announcement last week that the Department of Justice had indicted 12 Russian officials for hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Trump was encouraged by Democrats and some Republicans to avoid meeting with Putin one-on-one over the indictment, but Trump pressed forward with his Monday meeting.

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Germany’s foreign minister told the German Funke newspaper group on Monday that his country can no longer “completely rely” on President Donald Trump’s White House following his characterization of the European Union as a “foe” on trade, Reuters reported.

“We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” Heiko Maas told the newspaper group. “To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it. The first clear consequence can only be that we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe. Europe must not let itself be divided however sharp the verbal attacks and absurd the tweets may be.”

In an interview broadcast on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Trump listed the EU as one of his biggest global foes and said the EU was “very difficult.”

Well, I think we have a lot of foes,” Trump said. “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”

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