Lawmakers call Trump's performance alongside Putin 'bizarre,' 'shameful'

Lawmakers call Trump's performance alongside Putin 'bizarre,' 'shameful'

President Donald Trump's performance during a press conference after a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday left critics of all stripes howling.

"Well, I might. I hadn't thought of that, but, certainly, I will be asking about it", Trump said.

Just days after the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller yielded indictments against 12 Russian intelligence agents - the first time Russian government officials have been charged for efforts to interfere with the 2016 election - Trump said that seeking assurances from Putin that the charged individuals would be extradited to the United States to face the charges was not at the top of his mind.

Putin said the talks were "open and business-like" and said, "I think we can call it a success".

Earlier, there was plenty of pomp when this circus came to town, transforming summery Helsinki into a centre of global attention nearly overnight.

Graham quipped that Trump ought to check a soccer ball Putin gave to Trump for listening devices, "and never allow it in the White House". "I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow".

The president also said in a CBS News interview broadcast on Sunday that the European Union is an American "foe" for "what they do to us in trade".

But while Mr Putin came over as the seasoned professional, eager to present his country as an equivalent to the USA in terms of being a nuclear superpower; an energy provider; and a key actor in the Middle East, Mr Trump seemed more intent on castigating his opponents back home.

The message seemed clear.

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Trump also congratulated Putin on hosting the World Cup, calling it "one of the best ever".

Lost in the fireworks of Monday evening's press conference of course was any real substance about what the two world leaders talked about. "I did not think this was a good moment for our country". Or perhaps the discussions between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan a decade later with the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons. "I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is".

Putin admitted that he wanted Trump to win the 2016 presidential election because of his policies but said he took no action to make that happen.

It was an inauspicious start to a summit that seemed more about optics than substance.

The drama between Trump and Putin is playing out at the imposing 19th Century presidential palace in Helsinki.

When Trump spoke, Putin leaned to his right in his chair, his elbow placed on the armrest near a small table that separated the two.

"I get the feeling, I've seen it first-hand actually, sometimes the president cares more about how a leader treats him personally than forcefully getting out there and pushing against things that we know have harmed our nation", Corker said. "We are the two great nuclear powers, we have 90 percent of the nuclear". I think it's kept us apart, it's kept us separated.

Ultimately, the reduced expectations that both sides had set for this summit were met, a result that above all may satisfy Finns anxious that their capital could one day be associated with a fateful deal.

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