President Trump defended last week’s divisive summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid new reports that Americans disapproved of his actions by a wide margin.
On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that his private meeting with Putin and news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on July 16 was a success, and that the press is responsible for the widespread criticism.
I had a GREAT meeting with Putin and the Fake News used every bit of their energy to try and disparage it. So bad for our country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018
Many Americans were aghast that Trump, who has an insulting nickname for nearly every one of his political opponents, did not confront Putin over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, and even cast doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that just one-third of Americans (33 percent) approve of how Trump handled his meeting with Putin whereas 50 percent did not. When asked about American leadership under Trump, 30 percent of respondents said it’s gotten stronger, 47 percent said it’s gotten weaker, 20 percent said it’s remained the same and 4 percent had no opinion. According to the survey, 56 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump for expressing doubt over the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions about Russian meddling and 29 percent approved.
In Washington, D.C., the bipartisan response to Trump’s handling of the Putin summit was fiercely critical. With the exception of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who defended Trump, every Republican lawmaker either criticized the president for his actions or sidestepped the president while affirming that Russia is an adversary. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for example, called Trump’s performance one of the most disgraceful by a U.S. president in memory.
“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake,” McCain said in a statement.
The negative reaction, which Trump previously blamed on “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” continued into the weekend, as former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called the president’s actions in Finland alarming.
“The great mystery is why the president has not spoken up for our country,” Clinton said at OZY Fest in New York on Saturday. “And we saw that most clearly in this recent meeting with Putin.”
More coverage of the Trump-Putin summit from Yahoo News:
- After Trump’s defense of Putin, sighs of resignation — but nobody’s resigning (yet)
- Trump says Russia is not currently targeting the U.S., contracting his own intel chief
- Putin dismisses, but doesn’t quite deny, having ‘kompromat’ on Trump
- Trump and Putin: The admiration is mutual, the benefits one-sided
- Reporter forcibly removed before Trump’s press conference with Putin
- Slideshow: Trump meets Putin in Helsinki