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President Donald Trump's criticism of American law enforcement and praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin drew widespread yowls of criticism Monday, with former CIA Director John Brennan calling Trump's performance "nothing short of treasonous."
Even hosts at Fox News, which rarely misses a chance to praise Trump when many others are blasting him, were stunned by Trump's refusal to condemn Putin for what U.S. intelligence agencies have said is solid evidence of Russia's sustained effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Fox Business host Neil Cavuto called Trump's performance "disgusting." Fox News political analyst Brit Hume called it "lame."
Trump in a joint news conference with Putin in Helsinki said that both the United States and Russia were to blame for what he also called the worst relationship between the two countries in their history.
Twitter exploded with condemnation of Trump's supine stance toward Putin, with Republican and Democratic elected officials alike blasting the president.
Brennan, appearing on MSNBC, elaborated on his scathing criticism, saying, "I cannot understand how the national security team can continue to abide by this and how [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo and [National Security Advisor John} Bolton and [White House Chief of Staff] John Kelly can continue in their jobs."
"This I think rises to the point of good American patriots resigning in objection to that performance by Donald Trump," continued Brennan, who is a contributor and analyst for national security and intelligence issues for both MSNBC and NBC News.
"I'm at a loss of words to describe just how outrageous his statements, his behavior, has been."
James Comey, whom Trump fired last year as FBI director, also took a shot at the president on Twitter.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Trump's news conference with Putin was a "disgrace."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, in a prepared statement said, "We have seen time and again that Russia will stop at nothing to interfere with and undermine our system of government." He noted that just days before the summit, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that 12 Russian intelligence officers had been charged with attempting to interfere with the election that sent Trump to the White House.
“U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed Russia’s actions, and the evidence is plentiful," Goodlatte. "Today’s summit was an opportunity to forcefully address this growing threat directly with President Putin. I am dismayed that we did not see that.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said Trump's claim that both Russia and the U.S. are responsible for their deteriorated relationship is "bizarre and flat-out wrong."
"The United States is not to blame," Sasse said. "America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate minority leader, said, " In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin. For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak. The president is putting himself over our country.
Schumer also said, "A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: what could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said, "There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence."
"The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which 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 said.
Here'e a sampling of the negative reaction to Trump's news conference: