Going into Monday's Helsinki summit, U.S. President Donald Trump promised warmer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the head of U.S. Central Command had few kind words Thursday for Russian forces operating in Syria. Trump is attacking media outlets, saying that the, quote, "fake news media" is the real enemy of the people.
On Monday, Trump appeared to accept Putin's denial of Russian interference in the United States 2016 presidential election at their joint press conference in Helsinki, sparking uproar in Washington. Asked whether the president would actually entertain the idea of having U.S. persons questioned by Russia including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Sanders said no agreement was made yet, but acknowledged that it was indeed a topic of the president's two-hour private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
The Republican president later said he had misspoken and accused "some people" of hating the fact that he got along with Putin.
"We will see how things develop further", Putin said, citing unnamed "forces" in the USA trying to prevent any improvement in relations and "putting narrow party interests above the national interest".
"It was successful overall and led to some useful agreements".
Trump has faced sharp criticism from USA lawmakers - including key Republicans - and others who denounced his performance at a July 16 joint press conference with Putin following their Helsinki meeting.
"We see that there are forces in the United States that are prepared to casually sacrifice Russian-U.S. relations, to sacrifice them for their ambitions in an internal political battle in the United States". "I think that's where we begin to draw the line", he said.
Donald Trump with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki
While they had met privately on three occasions in 2017, Trump opened the door to a potential White House meeting with Putin earlier this year.
"The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double negative", he added.
What happened at Monday's one-on-one between Trump and Putin with only interpreters present remained a mystery, even to top officials and USA lawmakers who said they had not been briefed.
Current U.S. law prohibits coordination and collaboration with the Russian military, as stipulated in the National Defense Authorization Act following Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.
"What I fear, you know", he continued, "because President Trump probably is not as conversant in these issues as he should be, or most certainly not as conversant as Putin is, he probably just nodded along". Sanders said Trump believes the threat from Russian Federation to undermine November's USA midterm elections still exists and that Moscow would still target American elections. The latest Trump walk back came as the Senate was about to vote on a resolution barring USA diplomats from being questioned by foreign countries.
So the anger is all about the 2016 election?
Trump asserts Russian Federation not targeting U.S. , contradicting intel
Talking about the Trump-Putin summit , Antonov said: "There are no secret agreements reached at the meetings held in Helsinki, as far as I know".