Spelling it out: War of words over US-Russia relations

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Mr Coats nevertheless expressed his concern surrounding the private meeting held between President Trump and President Putin in Helsinki, as no notes were taken and only two interpreters were present in the room. While Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with Trump on Thursday, other top military officials are still expecting a readout from the president or his national security adviser, John Bolton, this week. Coats says his comments at the event were not meant to be critical of the president's handling of the Helsinki summit.

Despite bipartisan criticism, Mr Trump pointed blame at the media, tweeting: "The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russian Federation, even a confrontation that could lead to war".

A major source of public confusion was Trump's statement during Monday's joint press conference in Helsinki that he did not believe that Russian Federation could have interfered in the most recent U.S. presidential elections.

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But as Air Force One took off into Finland's endless sunlight on Monday night, Trump's mood darkened.

This was the statesman speaking, in contrast with the politician refusing to acknowledge Russia's meddling in the election as it would undermine his own election's legitimacy.

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The president was asked what he said to Putin, and he replied that he was "very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling". The White House did ultimately object to one proposal from Putin to hand over two Americans, including former U.S.

But that was not how it was being portrayed back home. One such exchange occurred a month before the U.S. presidential election, when Butina said she understood that "everything has to be quiet and careful".

Exactly what Mr. Trump and Putin discussed, and what agreement or agreements they reached, has been the topic of much discussion and confusion.

In a CNBC interview broadcast on Friday, Trump said he and Putin had a rapport in Helsinki. "I think as time goes by - and the president has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting - I think we will learn more".

Russia's U.S. ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, said Syria had been the primary topic in the Trump-Putin conversations, in addition to "concerns that the United States has regarding the well-known claims about alleged interference in the elections".

A day after his meeting with Putin, Trump "clarified" his statements at a press conference saying he had full faith in the conclusion of United States intelligence agencies that Russian Federation interfered with the 2016 U.S. election.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, called his comments "bizarre and flat-out wrong"; Arizona's Jeff Flake deemed them "shameful"; and Lindsey Graham of SC said they will be perceived as "a sign of weakness".

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Many in the White House did not immediately see fault in Sanders' comments that the West Wing was merely considering the Kremlin offer, but it provided fresh tinder for the bipartisan firestorm.

The White House on Wednesday indicated there was no recording of the one-on-one interaction between Trump and Putin, CNN reports. He groused about his staff for not better managing the fallout.

Instead, at the press conference, Trump brought up the scandal surrounding Clinton's personal email server while she was secretary of state, asking: "Where are those servers?"

Senate Republicans joined Democrats in swiftly passing a resolution, 98-0, that put the Senate on record against the questioning of American officials by a foreign government.

"The Russian Defense Ministry is ready for practical implementation of the agreements in the sphere of global security reached by Russian and US Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at their Monday's summit in Helsinki", the Russian embassy tweeted.

White House officials have been calling their friends at The Washington Post to let them know Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats "has gone rogue" over comments he made at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday.

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