Washington: US President Donald Trump, a day after trying to do damage control, offered a fresh defence on Wednesday of his summit with Russian President VladiÂmir Putin, by saying that his widely panned news conference was appreciated by “many people at the higher ends of intelligence”.
In morning tweets, Trump condemned “haters” who did not want him getting along with Putin, saying they suffered from “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.
On Tuesday, the US leader sought to tamp down a global uproar over his warm embrace of Putin at Monday’s summit in Helsinki, delivering a statement at the White House in which he said he accepts the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election.
During his press conference with the Russian leader, Trump had appeared to support him rather than his own intelligence services over claims of election meddling by Moscow.
Early Wednesday, Trump was back to touting a meeting that he said would lead to “big results” and “many positive things”, including Russia’s help with his efforts to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.
“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” Trump wrote about the joint appearance with Putin that was slammed by members of both political parties.
“Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”
Trump said people “who wanted to see a boxing match” were bothered by his rapport with Putin. “They would rather go to war than see this!”
In a subsequent tweet on Wednesday, Trump claimed that a meeting with NATO allies in Brussels last week was an “acknowledged triumph” and that his summit with Putin “may prove to be, in the long run, an even greater success”.
Talking about North Korea, Trump said that Russia agreed to help with North Korea. “Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!” he said.
Republicans were equally dumbfounded as Democrats were over Trump’s siding with Russia over his own intelligence officials after the summit.
Trump’s tweets prompted a new round of criticism from Democrats, including Representative Ted Lieu, who said that only Russian people appreciated Trump’s joint news conference with Putin, the Washington Post reported.
“Also, the rest of us less intelligent people in America thought your performance in Helsinki was disgraceful,” Lieu said.
Chuck Schumer, leader of the opposition Democrats in the Senate, said the President’s retraction of his previous comments was a sign of weakness.
“He made a horrible statement, tried to back off, but couldn’t even bring himself to back off,” he told the Senate, adding that “Trump is afraid to confront Putin directly.”