The Latest: Former deputy AG says Trump chose 'tyrant'July 17, 2018 12:00am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on reaction to President Donald Trump's news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates says President Donald Trump "not only chose a tyrant over his own Intel community, he chose Russia's interests over the country he is sworn to protect."

Yates made the comment on Twitter Monday, hours after Trump appeared at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and openly questioned U.S. intelligence agencies' finding that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

She says: "All Americans should raise their voices. Let the world know what we stand for."

Yates was the Justice Department's No. 2 official at the end of the Obama administration and acting attorney general for the first 10 days of the Trump administration. President Donald Trump fired her for refusing to defend his travel ban. Since then, she has publicly criticized Trump.

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7:35 p.m.

Australia's prime minister says he finds U.S. intelligence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election "very compelling," and suggests President Donald Trump should not trust his Russian counterpart.

Trump refused to challenge President Vladimir Putin after the Russian denied that his country interfered in the elections.

Asked if Trump should trust Putin, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Melbourne Radio 3AW: "President Putin himself said you shouldn't trust anybody. It may well be good advice."

Turnbull added: "I certainly don't trust President Putin when he says he wasn't responsible for the shooting down of MH17," referring to the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 shot down by a missile with the loss of 298 passengers and crew over Ukraine four years ago.

Turnbull says: "I find the evidence that's been produced by the American intelligence community (of Russian interference in the election) very compelling, but obviously there's a difference of opinion inside America."

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6:35 p.m.

Former FBI director James Comey is denouncing President Donald Trump's handling of Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki.

Comey tweeted Monday that Trump stood on foreign soil next to Putin and "refused to back his own country." He says the Russian leader is a "murderous lying thug."

He adds, "Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president."

Trump refused to challenge Putin after the Russian denied that his country interfered in the 2016 elections. The U.S. intelligence community has stated unequivocally that Russia did interfere.

Comey has become a vocal critic of Trump since the president fired him in May 2017. In a memoir released this year, he aired heavy criticism of the president, calling him "morally unfit" for the job.

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5:55 p.m.

Joe Biden says Donald Trump's news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was "beneath the dignity" of the office of the president of the United States.

The former vice president says Trump's words don't reflect "what Americans think and who we are."

Biden is criticizing the president's performance during his weeklong overseas trip, including the NATO summit and his meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Biden says Trump "insulted our friends and made common cause with our adversaries."

The Democrat, who is said to be considering a 2020 presidential bid, is calling on Americans to "speak out" and make it clear that "we believe in democracy over dictatorship."

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5:50 p.m.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says President Donald Trump must clarify his statements at the Helsinki summit, including a comment that he does not "see any reason" why Russia would interfere in the U.S. election.

Gingrich, a Republican and staunch Trump supporter, calls Trump's comments "the most serious mistake of his presidency" and says they "must be corrected — immediately."

Trump said Monday that while he had "great confidence" in U.S. intelligence, Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial of election meddling was "extremely strong and powerful."

Trump's comments have drawn widespread scorn and criticism.

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4:55 p.m.

One Republican senator says critics of President Donald Trump's approach to Russia are "mistaken" and points out that the United States has also picked sides in other countries' elections.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says it's important for the U.S. to keep an open dialogue with its adversaries, especially if it hopes to motivate them to change their behavior.

Paul tells The Associated Press, "We should look for ways to make the dialogue better."

He says lawmakers and former intelligence officials criticizing Trump include those from both parties who are opposed to his presidency. He calls it "Trump derangement syndrome."

Paul says, "I think these people are mistaken."

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4:35 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing behind the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections — despite President Donald Trump's latest comments.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters at the Capitol on Monday: "The Russians are not our friends." And he said he "entirely" agrees with intelligence agencies' assessment that Russians meddled in the election.

McConnell spoke several hours after Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference in Helsinki and said he didn't see "any reason" why Russia would have meddled. Trump said Putin was "extremely strong and powerful" in denying Russian involvement.

McConnell did not respond when asked if he was disappointed in Trump's remarks.

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2:55 p.m.

The director of national intelligence is restating the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election following a press conference where President Donald Trump openly questioned that conclusion.

Dan Coats said Monday that the U.S. intelligence community's role is to provide "the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the president and policymakers."

He added: "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security."

After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, Trump said that he had "great confidence" in U.S. intelligence but that Putin's denial of election meddling was "extremely strong and powerful."

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2:15 p.m.

Sen. John McCain calls President Donald Trump's press conference "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."

The Arizona Republican says the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was "a tragic mistake."

The senator says Trump proved not only unable, "but unwilling to stand up to Putin." And he said Trump and Putin "seemed to be speaking from the same script" as Trump made a "conscious choice to defend a tyrant."

McCain, who has been away from the Senate as he battles brain cancer, said the damage inflicted by Trump's "naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate."

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2:10 p.m.

A top Republican senator says President Donald Trump's refusal to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election makes the U.S. "look like a pushover" in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says Trump's performance at a summit with Putin was not "a good moment for our country. This was a very good day for President Putin."

Corker says there's no doubt Russia interfered in the election, adding that he was disappointed and saddened that Trump equated the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered and Putin's denial.

Corker said Trump seems to care more "about how a leader treats him personally" than pushing back against Russia's meddling in the election.

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1:55 p.m.

CNN's Anderson Cooper has called President Donald Trump's performance at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin "disgraceful."

The news conference, televised on the nation's biggest broadcast and cable news networks, drew strong reaction from commentators after it was over. But Cooper's initial assessment, made right after it ended, was among the most startling because he was anchoring the network's news coverage.

Cooper called Trump's performance "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, certainly that I've ever seen."

The CNN anchor said Trump was like "Rain Man" in the way he returns to the subject of Hillary Clinton's email server.

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1:50 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says there's "no question" that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and continues to try undermine democracy in the United States and around the world.

The Wisconsin Republican says the American intelligence community and the House Intelligence Committee agree that Russia interfered in the election. He adds: "The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally." Ryan says Russia "remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals."

The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."

Ryan's comments came after Trump said at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he sees no reason why Russia would interfere in the U.S. election.

The Kremlin has denied any state action in the election.

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1:40 p.m.

The Senate's top Democrat is accusing President Donald Trump of a "shameful performance" at a news conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leading House Democrat calls it "a sad day for America."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says Trump's remarks on his European trip, including Monday's news conference, have strengthened America's adversaries.

The New York Democrat says it is "thoughtless, dangerous and weak" for Trump to take Putin's word that Russia didn't meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia did interfere, but the Kremlin has denied state involvement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Trump's "weakness in front of Putin" proves the Russians have damaging information on him.

Standing beside Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump declined to criticize Russia for meddling and said he doesn't see why Russia would have done that.

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1:35 p.m.

Key members of Congress, including some Republicans, are criticizing President Donald Trump's performance at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin as "bizarre," ''shameful" and a "missed opportunity" to stand up to Russia.

And a former CIA director says it's treasonous.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted, "This is shameful." Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called it "bizarre" and "flat-out wrong" for Trump to suggest that both countries are to blame for their deteriorated relationship.

Top Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, says never in the history of the country has a U.S. president supported an adversary the way Trump supported Putin.

Former CIA Director John O. Brennan tweeted that Trump's behavior exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. Brennan says, "It was nothing short of treasonous."

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