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Paul Ryan contradicts Trump after Putin storm: 'Let's be clear, Russia meddled in our election'

'Russia is a menacing government that does not share our interests and it does not share our values,' Mr Ryan said

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 17 July 2018 17:25 BST
Paul Ryan advocates sanctions on Russia: It is a 'menacing government'

Paul Ryan has rebuked Donald Trump’s cosy relations with Vladimir Putin, vowing to hold Russia accountable for its global attacks on Democratic elections.

The House speaker held a press conference on Tuesday morning in which he vowed the US Congress will “make sure” Russia "doesn’t get away with it again," while discussing the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. “Let’s be clear, Russia meddled in our election,” he said.

The Wisconsin Republican also suggested the US needs to “equip” other countries with resources to prevent the Kremlin’s attacks on their own election processes.

The press conference arrived a day after the president’s controversial summit with Mr Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in which he declined to side with the US intelligence community and declare Russia responsible for hacks on the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Mr Ryan, who often remains silent on the president’s daily controversies, released a statement on Monday night criticising Mr Trump’s press conference with the Russian president.

“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” he said. ”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.”

On Tuesday, the House speaker said he would be “more than happy” to review additional sanctions Congress may impose against Russia, after a federal investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought an additional 12 indictments against Russian intelligence officers last week.

“Russia is a menacing government that does not share our interests and it does not share our values,” Mr Ryan said.

He joined a chorus of Democrats and Republicans alike who described the president’s conference with Mr Putin as “treasonous,” “embarrassing” and “un-American”.

"President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” John McCain said in a statement.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

Mr Trump’s comments were also met with rebuke from Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, who said in a statement following the conference: "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."

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