President Donald Trump has been widely criticized in the US after defending Russia over claims of interference in the 2016 elections.
At a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, President Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies, saying Russia had no reason to meddle.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, said President Trump must see that “Russia is not our ally”.
The president’s own intelligence chief publicly broke with him.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a statement that Russia is responsible for “ongoing, pervasive attempts” to undermine US democracy.
Vladimir Putin denied the claim.
On July 16, the two leaders held nearly two hours of one-on-one talks without their advisers in Helsinki.
At a news conference after the summit, President Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to allegations of meddling in the election.
He replied: “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
President Trump also blamed poor relations with Russia on past US administrations rather than Russian actions.
US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russia was behind an effort to tip the scale of the US election against Hillary Clinton, with a state-authorized campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media.
President Trump later backtracked, tweeting that he had “great confidence in my intelligence people”.
He tweeted: “As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018”