U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he “gave up nothing” to Russian President Vladimir Putin at last week’s summit in Helsinki, but details of their one-on-one meeting remained elusive.
“We merely talked about future benefits for both countries,” Trump said on Twitter. “Also, we got along very well, which is a good thing except for the Corrupt Media!”
He blamed the mainstream news media, “Fake News” as he called it again, for “talking negatively” about his meeting with Putin.
Trump and Putin met behind closed doors for more than two hours with only their translators in the room with them. At various times since then, Trump has said that the two leaders talked about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, stopping global terrorism, security for Israel, the need to curb a nuclear arms race between their countries, Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, cyberattacks, trade, Middle East peace, North Korea’s nuclear weapons and more.
But details of what Trump and Putin may have decided have not emerged. Trump late last week invited Putin to visit the White House in a few months for a second summit.
Criticism of Helsinki performance
Back home from the first one, the U.S. leader drew widespread criticism – from Trump’s fellow Republicans and opposition Democrats alike – for his performance at the joint news conference he had with Putin, where Trump embraced Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial that Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, rather than defending the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Moscow had interfered.
Trump has voiced a mix of comments since Helsinki, saying he accepted the U.S. intelligence finding of Russian election interference, while coupling it with continued denials that his campaign colluded with Russia.
By Sunday night, however, Trump was calling the Russian interference story “all a big hoax,” and blaming former president Barack Obama for not intervening to stop it because Obama thought Democrat Hillary Clinton would defeat Trump in the election two years ago.
“So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election,” Trump tweeted. “Why didn’t he do something about it? Why didn’t he tell our campaign? Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!”
On Monday, Trump railed against special counsel Robert Mueller’s 14-month investigation of whether Trump’s campaign worked directly with Moscow to help him win and whether he obstructed justice by firing Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey last year at a time when Comey was leading the agency’s Russia probe before Mueller was appointed to take it over.
The U.S. leader attacked the FBI for four times winning approval from a surveillance court to wiretap Carter Page, one of his former advisers, about his suspected ties to Russia, one of the underpinnings of the Mueller probe. Page has not been charged and on Sunday told CNN the allegations that he was conscripted by Russia are “ridiculous” and not true.
Trump called the Mueller probe “a disgrace to America. They should drop the discredited Mueller Witch Hunt now!”