Putin: Your toolkit to help understand the story

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Taking direct issue with the president who appointed him, Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats said United States spy agencies have been "clear" and "fact-based" in their assessment that Moscow interfered in the presidential race two years ago - an assessment that Trump refused to endorse in Helsinki.

Standing alongside Putin at the news conference in Helsinki on Monday, Mr Trump was asked if he believed US intelligence agencies' conclusions that Russian Federation interfered in the election in an effort to help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place", Trump said, but then, calling into question the extent of his acceptance, he added that it "could be other people also, there are a lot of people out there".

In Finland, which played host to the summit, newspaper Kauppalehti used a soccer analogy in its headline: "Trump 0-1 Putin", along with a photo of Trump holding a soccer ball given to him by the Russian leader.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, tweeted that she was "deeply troubled by President Trump's defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the US & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the USA and Russian Federation".

Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and Mueller declined to comment on Trump's comments or on Putin's purported offers for assistance.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who also has not seen eye-to-eye with the president, said the press conference "was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory".

Speaking to reporters at the White House, he insisted that "I have helped the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance greatly" by prodding allies to spend more on mutual defense.

Trump ally Newt Gingrich said the comments were the "most serious mistake of his presidency", urging him to clarify.

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All four members of Maine's congressional delegation are criticizing President Donald Trump for downplaying Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

"Let's be very clear, just so everybody knows: Russian Federation did meddle with our elections", said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

This evening he said that what he meant to say was he didn't see any reason why Russian wouldn't be responsible for meddling in the 2016 vote.

Trump said he'd give it to his 12-year-old son Barron, a football fan.

It was a remarkable break with U.S. intelligence officials and the Justice Department and, just as alarming for some, Mr Trump also put the two countries on the same footing when casting blame for their strained relations. Mr. Trump tweeted that he has "an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia" than he did with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "I really think the world wants to see us get along".

"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", Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said.

This disappointment with Trump's behavior is well-justified.

"Zero collusion", Trump said. "The United States must stand from a position of strength in our relationship with Russian Federation and in defense of our allies and shared values", Risch replied via email to several questions from the Statesman about Trump's and Putin's remarks. Trump also blamed American "foolishness and stupidity" for the poor state of U.S. -Russia relations, returning to themes he has repeated at political rallies around the United States.

On Senate Square, male "pregnant Trumps" and women wearing pink gags railed against a Trump order reinstating what critics call a "global gag rule" that bans providing federal money to worldwide family-planning groups that perform abortions or provide information about them.

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