In meeting, Trump and Putin stand alone

Trump and Vladimir Putin.AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais Adding that the alleged hacking operation "was really a third-rate operation", DeSantis told Fox News that the Russians have gotten a lot of "mileage" out of it because it has been zeroed in on "by the president's political opponents, both in the Democratic Party and the press". The deputy AG oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Putin said: "It is obvious to everyone that bilateral ties are going through a hard period".

"I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked", Trump said. I've been told that by a number of people, we had much better defenses, so they couldn't.

"Russia interfered in the 2016 election", Hatch said in a statement.

At the press conference that even Republicans are blasting, Trump also said he had confidence in his intelligence people but Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

Mueller's indictment details a sophisticated, large-scale hacking effort by 12 Russian officers to interfere with the 2016 elections by stealing documents from private servers and staging their release through fake online personas, such as Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.

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Trump's performance was roundly denounced.

No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. "But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake".

Friday's indictment was secured by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Moscow's interference in the election and whether President Donald Trump's campaign cooperated with the effort.

As Republicans recover from this huge unforced error (exactly what the GOP didn't need at this point in a perilous midterm election cycle) and start spinning this event, we will hear some imaginative interpretations of Trump's behavior in Helsinki (the jet-lag theory, unfortunately, won't fly, since POTUS arrived for the summit after a relatively brief flight from Scotland).

Many in Washington were agog at Trump's decision to sit alone with Putin, anxious about what he might bargain away to the former KGB spymaster, after previously cosying up to the autocratic leaders of China and North Korea.

Putin chuckled at the idea that Russian Federation had collected any compromising material on Trump, saying he wasn't even aware that Trump was in Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe contest (even though, according to the testimony of several of those involved, Putin's chief spokesman had been attempting to arrange a meeting with Trump during the pageant). "You can trust no one", Putin said, calling claims of collusion "utter nonsense". "Please, just disregard these issues and don't think about this anymore again". Then, Trump turned his attention to the testimony last week of an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who, while investigating Trump and Clinton, had sent text messages disparaging of Trump. The United States is not to blame.

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