RI, Mass. lawmakers blast Trump meeting with Putin

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Finland Trump Putin Summit_1531774347835

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, smiles beside Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says President Donald Trump’s comments about Russian election meddling are “deeply unnerving.”

The Democrat issued a statement Monday after Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at a joint news conference in Finland.

Trump did not strongly condemn the interference efforts, which U.S. intelligence agencies insist did occur, including hacking of Democratic emails, the subject of last week’s indictment of 12 Russians.

Members of Congress, including some Republicans, criticized Trump’s performance.

Whitehouse says both parties should come together to protect American institutions, including the law enforcement and intelligence communities working to hold Russia responsible for its actions.

He says it’s clear Trump is unwilling to protect them himself.

Sen. Jack Reed called the meeting “disgraceful” and suggested that Trump “did real harm to America” by praising Putin and accepting his denials of the meddling claims.

“I urged President Trump not to go through with this ill-advised meeting because I thought he’d let Putin off the hook for attacks on our democracy, which he did, in disastrous fashion,” Reed wrote.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted that Trump took to the international stage Monday to “embarrass America, undermine our institutions, weaken our alliances, & embrace a dictator.”

Sen. Edward Markey said it was a “national embarrassment that President Trump would put defending the legitimacy of his own election over defending American democracy.”

Trump on Monday said there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russians. In a tweet, he blamed the poor U.S. relationship with Russia on “many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

Rep. Katherine Clark Trump called Trump’s performance “disgusting and dangerous.” Rep. William Keating said it was impossible to distinguish Trump’s words from Russian propaganda.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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