Russian President Vladimir Putin has a plan to divide the US from its allies, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Tuesday, and President Donald Trump is "playing into that plan either on goal or by accident".
President Trump, seeking to stanch a national furor, said on Tuesday that he misspoke in Helsinki, Finland, and meant to say that he indeed does see Russian Federation as the culprit that interfered in the 2016 presidential election, just as USA intelligence agencies have found.
At the summit, Trump appeared to favor Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial of Russian meddling over the assessment of US intelligence agencies that Russia did try to interfere.
Albright said Trump's remarks, combined with his criticism of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies last week, "adds up to total confusion about what the role of the United States is".
Trump expressed doubt yesterday over assessments that Russian Federation meddled with the 2016 election, but he backtracked today and said that he accepts the intelligence community's findings.
"I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today", Trump said, adding that the ongoing investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, which has coincided with virtually the entirety of his presidency, has been "a disaster for our country".
He again floated the idea that "other people" could be involved.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer was quick to pounce.
"My people came to me - [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others - they said they think it's Russian Federation".
But after the past 24 hours, he's clearly not taking any chances.
In Helsinki, Putin said he had indeed wanted Trump to win the election - a revelation that might have made more headlines if not for Trump's performance - but had taken no action to make it happen. This week, Paul announced in an op-ed in Politico that he would soon be making a trip to Russian Federation to "discuss common ground with their leaders" - and would be consulting with the president before going.
Ahead of the summit, Russian media did have rather modest expectations of how much Putin could concretely achieve.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier Tuesday he wouldn't critique Trump's appearance with Putin.
During Medvedev's four-year term, Putin - president prior to and after his tenure - served as Russian prime minister. As presidential candidates, Paul questioned the "sophomoric quality" of Trump's temperament, comparing his tendency to attack people's looks and character to what "happened in junior high", and questioning whether that made him unfit to be commander in chief.
By Tuesday afternoon when he faced the cameras, Trump had changed tack.
"We're doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018", the president said.
Hannity said that Trump rightfully met with Putin and likely discussed the two nations' concerns regarding terrorism, the Syrian civil war, and "Iranian aggression".
Former president Barack Obama appeared to allude to his successor in a speech in South Africa on Tuesday, blasting "strongman politics" - without naming Trump.
In his version of events, Putin said any expectations he had for the meeting were surpassed as discussions with Trump progressed in a convivial spirit.
Panelists on Russia's popular Sunday night talk show "Vecher (Evening)" said Putin was going into the summit as the clearly stronger figure, notably coming off his successful hosting of the monthlong World Cup. "It's really clear", he said.