Trump says he has been ‘tougher on Russian Federation than anybody’

Sean Gallup  Getty Images Europe

Sean Gallup Getty Images Europe

Earlier on Friday, the US Department of Justice announced that 12 people, whom it identified as "Russian intelligence officers", had been indicted for hacking the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin cover the White House for The Associated Press.

The charges shine an even greater spotlight on Trump's treatment of Putin, who has repeatedly denied Russian Federation sought to intervene or skew the US election that Trump, a Republican, unexpectedly won.

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted on charges they hacked into Democratic email accounts during the 2016 USA presidential election and released stolen information in the months before Americans headed to the polls, the Justice Department said Friday. "I did it. You got me'".

When asked at a news conference on Friday whether he would tell Putin to stay out of US elections, Trump said "yes".

"I don't think you'll have any, 'Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me". That's not happening, the White House said.

"The goal of the upcoming meeting is to finally begin efforts to improve the negative situation in the Russia-U.S. relations, to take concrete steps to normalize them, to rebuild a more or less acceptable level of trust, and to try to outline steps that will make it possible to resume mutually beneficial cooperation on matters of mutual interest", Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said when briefing the media about details of the meeting.

"President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world", McCain said in statement issued on Friday.

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Trump launched his blunt attack against Germany on the very first day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit that took place in Belgium on Wednesday and Thursday, saying it was wrong to back importing more Russian gas and not meeting the Nato's target for defence spending.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump joined Queen Elizabeth for tea Friday in a first-ever meeting that kicked off with formal British pomp and circumstance at Buckingham Palace.

A chorus of Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Trump must call off the summit.

The suspects, named as members of the GRU (Russian military intelligence), are alleged to have hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was among the first to call for Trump to cancel the summit, warning that, "Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy".

"He should demand that", said Nadler of NY.

"I strongly believe that every individual who helped carry it out - foreign or domestic - should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law", she said.

"It's a horrific thing being done where you're feeding billions and billions of dollars from Germany... into the coffers of Russian Federation when we're trying to do something so that we have peace in the world".

A commitment to defend each other is the bedrock of the alliance and any suggestion that the United States would not come to Europe's aid because, as Trump has suggested, they owe "massive" sums, could be a blow to its deterrence.

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