Republicans are unhappy with President Trump's comments at his press conference with Putin. But it appears they're unlikely to do much about it.
CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly just told CNN chief national correspondent John King what he's been hearing behind the scenes over the course of the last 24 hours, talking with lawmakers and senior Republican aides about President Donald Trump's embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial that Russia meddled in the US election, and his failure to embrace the conclusion of the US intelligence agencies conclusion that he did.
He noted "a sense of forlorn acceptance" among the Republicans, and a feeling that "there's nothing more Republicans think they can do."
Noting they've passed an extension of sanctions, an increase in defense funding, support for Baltic states, Mattingly said the feeling is, "What else is there for them to do, given this is where the President clearly is and he's -- according to one senator -- just ignoring his foreign policy team."
The bottom line, Mattingly said, is this will likely go the way of a lot of the controversies we've seen over the last 15 or 16 months: Republicans unnerved. Republicans unhappy. Republicans acknowledging that this diverges strongly ideologically from where they stand on a specific issue.
But in terms of, will there be anything substantive they do on Capitol Hill? The short answer right now, at least, appears to be no.
Watch him explain:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republican colleagues to join in "demanding testimony" from President Donald Trump's national security team present during the Helsinki summit earlier this week, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, "immediately."
"And very importantly, probably most importantly, our Republican colleagues need to join us in demanding testimony from the President's national security team that was in Helsinki -- and we need to do that immediately," the New York Democrat said from the Senate floor Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham just spoke to CNN about the Trump-Putin press conference, calling it a "bad day for the President" and demanding Trump "fix it."
"I think it was a bad day for the President," Graham said. "I think he can fix it - I think he needs to fix it."
Asked by a reporter, "What now?", Graham responded:
He added, "I don’t mind meeting with our adversaries. Russia is definitely an adversary, but I want to make sure we’re being informed as to what potential agreements were made and whether or not we think, in Congress, it makes sense. I think that’s what we do going forward is try to find out what the game plan is."
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker was exasperated as he talked about Trump's summit yesterday and he was clear that Congress has limited options. Trump is the president and he said in a 15-minute presser, Trump “can do more damage than it takes us months to overcome."
He said “its hard to overcome no matter what we do here.”
Corker said if Congress is serious about pulling back Trump’s power abroad, they need to pass Corker’s tariff legislation. On more sanctions, he said Congress has already passed robust sanctions and he fears a resolution does little in reality.
Asked if he was afraid that the national security community would resign en masse, Corker appeared distraught.
He brought up Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis by name.
“I don’t want those people to leave, “Corker said. “You can tell people are trying to think through how do they deal with this.”
“People say why don’t you all leave your party? Look, this is my party. This is my party. I’ve been here longer.”
He added more just about the summit and how Congress needs to be careful and deliberate unlike the White House.
He said the White House should be doing damage control today.
Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to justify the hacking of Democrats because the information dispersed was true, after denying that Russia had interfered in the US 2016 presidential election.
"Russia as a state has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections," Putin told Fox News' Chris Wallace in an interview that aired Monday evening. Putin's remarks were being translated.
Note: The US intelligence community has concluded that Russia did interfere with the 2016 election.
Earlier on Monday, Putin, standing next to President Trump at a news conference, insisted that Russia "never interfered" with American affairs, including the 2016 presidential election.
Watch more from the Fox interview:
House Speaker Paul Ryan, answering questions at the House GOP's weekly press conference, said that while he did not believe President Trump's actions alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin arose to treason as alleged by former CIA chief John Brennan ("I do not," he said), said he clearly believes "Russia did meddle with our elections."
"Russia is trying to undermine democracy itself, to delegitimize democracy, so they can be look good by comparison. Let’s be really clear about that," Ryan said.
"We know they interfered with our elections, and we have passed sanctions on Russia to hold them accountable. More importantly, what we intend to do, is be sure that they don’t get away with it again."
He added that he has not yet spoken to President Trump since he made the remarks in Helsinki, and that a statement he issued shortly after the press conference concluded, in which he said, "The President must appreciate that Russia is not our ally," still stands.
Asked if supported legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, Ryan said, "He should be allowed to finish his investigation and carry out his work. Nothing’s changed."
Former intelligence chiefs, top Republicans and outspoken voices in the conservative media all joined Democrats in their criticisms of President Trump's refusal to call Putin out for interfering in the US election.
But Trump just tweeted that the "Fake News is going Crazy," claiming that the media is failing to report on the successes of his private, one-on-one meeting with President Putin (which he described as "even better" than his meeting with NATO members).
Here's Trump's tweet:
Former President Obama, addressing crowds in South Africa on Tuesday to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth, said that much of the world wants to "return to an older, a more dangerous, a more brutal way of doing business."
“The politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear — and that kind of politics is now on the move," he said." “I am not being alarmist, I am simply stating the facts … Look around.”
He then called out "far-right" parties in the west:
“Who needs free speech as long as the economy is going good?” he quipped.
Why this matters today: Obama made the remarks one day after President Trump's widely panned press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of silencing his critics in politics and the press.
Pete King stands by House Intel report in an interview with CNN on Tuesday, but said President Trump made a “mistake” to side with Putin.
The House Intelligence Committee’s report -- drafted by the GOP majority -- disputed the findings by the intelligence community that Vladimir Putin wanted Donald Trump to become president.
But here's the thing: Putin yesterday confirmed he wanted Trump to win.
Pete King told CNN he “absolutely” stands by that report because he has seen the intelligence and doesn’t believe Putin.
Also, King said that Trump made a “mistake” by siding with Putin and needs to correct it immediately and there is “no moral equivalence” between the United States and Russia.
Watch Putin's answer: