Associated Press
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio says he can “guarantee” that the Russians will interfere with the next U.S. election and he’s pushing legislation to impose tough sanctions if they do.

The Florida Republican is working with Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen on a bill that would prohibit foreign governments from purchasing election ads, using social media to spread false information or disrupting election infrastructure.

Rubio told reporters Tuesday that the “real threat” isn’t what already happened with Russian election interference in 2016 but “what could happen” in 2018 and beyond.

He says it’ll be “a threat for years to come.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not committed to voting on the bill but cited it as one possibility following President Donald Trump’s summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


4:05 p.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week about President Donald Trump’s recent summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A Republican aide says Pompeo will testify publicly July 25. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the hearing hasn’t been announced.

The aide says the panel requested Pompeo’s testimony after the North Korea trip, and Russia was added as a second topic after Trump’s Monday meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker criticized Trump’s comments questioning U.S. intelligence that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. Trump made the comments during the Putin summit.

Lawmakers also have said they want to know what was agreed to in Trump’s closed meeting with Putin.

- By Mary Clare Jalonick


3:50 p.m.

Sen. Jeff Flake is preparing to introduce a bipartisan resolution to reaffirm Senate support for the finding of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

The proposed resolution comes a day after President Donald Trump questioned the intelligence community’s conclusion at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Arizona Republican told reporters Tuesday that the resolution would basically say, “We believe the intelligence, regardless of what Putin is saying.”

Flake says the resolution would also call for hearings or briefings to find out the impact of Trump’s private session with Putin on foreign policy.

He is unsure if GOP leaders would allow a vote. But he’s working with a Democratic senator to move forward to let “the world know that we have no doubts.”


3:05 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump is trying to “squirm” away from his comments about Russian interference in the 2016 election because he didn’t have the courage to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki summit.

Schumer told reporters Tuesday that Trump’s clarification is “24 hours too late and in the wrong place.”

The New York Democrat’s comments came moments after Trump backtracked from remarks made at the summit in which he sided with Putin’s denials, rather than the findings of U.S. intelligence officials, about Russian interference.

Schumer said if the president can’t directly tell Putin he’s wrong and “our intelligence agencies are right, it’s ineffective.”

He said it’s another sign of weakness that allows Putin “to take advantage” of Trump.


12 p.m.

The No. 2 Senate Republican says there may be additional sanctions on Russia in the upheaval following President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters that sanctions might draw bipartisan support because Democrats have also backed the idea. “We could find common ground to turn the screws on Russia,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn suggested sanctions legislation as an alternative to plans for a resolution supporting the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

A resolution -as some in the House are suggesting- is “just some messaging exercise,” said Cornyn.

No votes are scheduled yet as lawmakers are considering various ways to respond after Trump, at the summit, suggested he believed the Russian president’s denials of election interference, rather than the findings of the U.S. intelligence agencies.


11:40 a.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling for immediate hearings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials to learn more about President Donald Trump’s private meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn).

Schumer says the American people deserve to know what, if anything, Trump promised Putin during the two-hour sit-down in Helsinki that included just the two leaders and their interpreters. Additional meetings later included senior aides to both men.

Schumer said Trump showed “abject weakness and sycophancy” in failing to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election. He said Trump’s public remarks make it even more important to learn what happened behind closed doors, calling it a matter of national security.

Schumer also urged the Senate to take up bipartisan bills boosting security of U.S. elections.


11:30 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s willing to consider additional sanctions on Russia, but there’s no rush to act.

Ryan had pointedly reminded President Donald Trump on Monday “that Russia is not our ally,” after Trump cast doubt on U.S. intelligence findings of election meddling by Vladimir Putin’s operatives.

On Tuesday, Ryan underscored that Russia did interfere in the 2016 elections and is a “menacing government” that does not share U.S. values. He said Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation.

But the Republican leader did not suggest the House will be responding legislatively any time soon.

“Let’s be very clear just so everybody knows: Russia did meddle with our elections,” Ryan said. “What we intend to do is make sure they don’t get away with it again and also to help our allies.”


11 a.m.

House Democrats say they will try to force a vote affirming the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, and endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement rebuking President Donald Trump.

Trump on Monday questioned the intelligence agencies’ findings at a press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ryan issued a statement afterward saying there’s “no question” that Russia interfered and “the president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”

In a letter to colleagues, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats will use a procedural move to try and force votes on the issue Tuesday. Pelosi said that Trump’s “total weakness in the presence of Putin proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically.”


10:35 a.m.

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it’s ready to boost cooperation with the U.S. military in Syria, following talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it’s ready for “practical implementation” of agreements reached by Trump and Putin.

It said Russia’s military leadership is ready to augment contacts with U.S. counterparts on “cooperation in Syria” and extending the START arms control treaty, but gave no details.

Putin said Russia and the U.S. reached common ground on Syria at Monday’s talks but gave few details.

The U.S. and Russia have backed opposite sides of Syria’s war, but U.S. and Russian officials are working toward an eventual deal on the balance of regional power in post-war Syria.


10:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is unbowed by bipartisan criticism of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a Tuesday tweet the President calls the Monday summit in Helsinki “even better” than his meeting with NATO allies last week in Brussels.

Trump is facing bipartisan criticism for his refusal to publicly challenge Putin over Russia’s election hacking and for doubting U.S. intelligence agency conclusions about Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. Trump backers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have criticized his performance.

Trump is taking aim at a familiar target - the media - saying his NATO meeting was “great” but that he “had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way - the Fake News is going Crazy!”

Even hosts on the Trump-preferred Fox News have been critical of his handling of the summit.


9:25 a.m.

Some lawmakers are talking about passing a resolution in support of U.S. intelligence agencies after President Donald Trump appeared to cast doubt on their findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, tells CNN the talk picked up following Trump’s Helsinki press conference. “Is that going to change anything?” he asked. “Probably not.” Congressional resolutions don’t carry the force of law.

Other Republican lawmakers have joined the criticism.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska told CBS “This Morning” that “the president isn’t leading. We negotiated from a position of weakness yesterday. Vladimir Putin walked away with a win.”

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois told CNN that Trump’s performance was “very embarrassing.”

But at least one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, dismissed the president’s critics as those who hate the president.

Trump tweeted his thanks.


8:35 a.m.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci says President Donald Trump must waste no time in disavowing his Helsinki press conference comments, where Trump appeared to doubt U.S. intelligence and accepted Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian election meddling.

Trump made a “strategic mistake” Monday that will drive his supporters into an alliance with opposition Democrats, Scaramucci warned on CNN. “He’s got to reverse course.”

“I’d be issuing a statement,” Scaramucci added. He said Trump must quickly say that he misspoke and that “the evidence is obviously irrefutable.”

Scaramucci added, “The optics of the situation are a disaster.”


12:15 a.m.

Swift and sweeping condemnation from Republicans as well as Democrats met President Donald Trump’s defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin and continued doubt over Russian election meddling.

Lawmakers and former intelligence officials appeared shocked, dismayed and uneasy with Trump’s suggestion Monday that he believes Putin’s denial over the assessment of U.S. intelligence officials and the Justice Department.

One of the sharpest reactions came from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who called Trump’s remarks in Helsinki “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Other Republicans have been scathing, too. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska called it “bizarre,” Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona called it “shameful,” and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted that it was a “bad day for the US.”


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