Trump Putin: Russian leader attacks US critics of summit

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Media caption,

Trump on Putin: "As the leader of a country, you would have to hold him responsible, yes"

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rounded on US critics of his summit with President Donald Trump.

Certain forces in the US wanted to sacrifice US-Russian ties for their "narrow party interests", he told a meeting of Russian diplomats in Moscow.

"They are feeding millions of their people stories," he said.

Mr Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies on Monday when he backed away from blaming Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, provoking condemnation.

He later said he had misspoken at the summit.

In his comments, Mr Putin said the meeting had been "successful and has led to useful agreements".

"Of course, it remains to be seen how the situation will develop, especially given that certain forces in America are trying to belittle and undermine the results of the meeting," he added.

Media caption,

"He is not a politician": US voters on the aftermath of the Trump-Putin summit

During an interview with CBS News on Wednesday, Mr Trump said he held Mr Putin personally responsible for interfering in the election, and that he was "very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling".

On Thursday, Mr Trump accused opponents of preferring to go to war rather than seeing good relations with Russia. In a series of tweets he said he was keen to meet Mr Putin again.

US special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was collusion among the Trump campaign team, something denied by both.

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A perfect fit for Kremlin

By Vitaliy Shevchenko, BBC Monitoring

Donald Trump's apparent U-turn may have come as a shock to some, but not to Russia. It fits perfectly the Kremlin's media narrative: the US president genuinely wants to mend ties with Russia, but is facing fierce opposition from the political mainstream.

"The deep state has literally leapt into action after the Helsinki summit," says official TV channel Rossiya 1.

According to state-run Channel One, Trump has become "the target of persecution with a vengeance" in the US, and therefore had to reverse his remarks on alleged Russian meddling.

Gazprom's NTV uses an old Russian saying about a man trying to catch a bird that has flown. The implication is clear: you said Russia never meddled, and it is too late to change that now.

And St Petersburg-based Channel Five wonders: "Is Trump under hypnosis?"

Ambassador controversy

The White House is facing further criticism for not ruling out a Russian proposal to question US citizens accused by the Kremlin of "illegal activities".

One of those being sought by Russia is former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul, but allowing him to be questioned would breach the legal immunity normally granted to a country's foreign service.

Politicians from both sides of the US political divide have rubbished the idea - one Democrat congressman called the suggestion "crazy".

FBI director Christopher Wray also dismissed it, saying "it's certainly not high on our list of investigative techniques".

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Democrats demand interpreter

Democrats want a subpoena issued for the notes of a state department translator who accompanied Mr Trump to his two-hour meeting with Mr Putin.

The two leaders met privately at the summit with only their interpreters present.

But there is little Democrats can do in the Republican-controlled Congress. On Thursday, California representative Adam Schiff said his proposal to legally demand the translator's notes was rejected.

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Media caption,

Trump says he "misspoke" at Putin summit, but is it too late? Anthony Zurcher explains

Meanwhile, a non-binding Senate resolution introduced by Jeff Flake, a Republican, and Chris Coons, a Democrat, was blocked, too.

House Democrats are touting a bill to "hold Russia accountable, strengthen our election security and bolster our alliances", but it is likely to face strong headwinds.

What has President Trump said?

Much of the outrage stemmed from one comment Mr Trump made when he appeared alongside Mr Putin on Monday.

During a news conference, Mr Trump was asked whether he believed US intelligence agencies' conclusions or Mr Putin about whether Russia had meddled.

According to a White House transcript, he said: "I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."

Amid outcry, the following day he said he had misspoken.

Despite the controversy, Republican voters seem to be sticking by Mr Trump, with a Reuters/Ipsos poll this week finding that his Finland summit had no real impact on his overall approval ratings.

Media caption,

The ways Trump and Putin see eye to eye