President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin shared their remarks in a press conference Monday following a historic meeting in Helsinki between the two leaders.
On Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and collusion with Trump’s campaign, President Trump denounced reports of Russian intrusion.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” said Trump during the conference.
Both leaders agreed that they wanted to restore relations between the two countries. Putin said that the U.S. and Russia are “going through a complicated stage,” but that the “Cold War is a thing of a past.” Trump agreed, saying that, “Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed about four hours ago.”
Here’s how New Jersey politicians reacted to the Trump-Putin Helsinki conference:
New Jersey’s senior Sen. Bob Menendez said:
That was disturbing. Shameful. Jaw-dropping. Disgraceful. I am running out of words to describe how despicable it is to see an American President capitulate to a dictator. #Helsinki
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 16, 2018
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker tweeted:
It’s a fact that Russia attacked our democracy in 2016 to influence the presidential election in favor of Trump. Today Trump sided with Putin over our own intelligence & law enforcement officials & blamed the US for Russia’s attacks. Every American should be outraged. #Helsinki
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 16, 2018
Democrat Rep. Donald Norcross, who represents South Jersey in Congressional District 1, said:
“President Trump thinks Russia’s dictator is just as credible as America’s top intelligence and law enforcement officials. He’s wrong, and his comments today were shameful. I support the unanimous conclusion of America’s intelligence community that Russia hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This is not a partisan issue, we must treat it as a serious national security breach and take action to protect the very fabric of our democracy. Trump isn’t sure who to believe or who to blame. Well I am Mr. President: believe America and blame Putin.”
Frank LoBiondo, a Republican serving New Jersey’s 2nd District, said:
I strongly disagree w/ statement that Russia did not meddle in 2016 election. With all I have seen on House Intel Comm & additional indictments of 12 Russian officers last week, it is clear Russia’s intentions. President Trump missed opportunity to hold Putin publicly accountable
— Frank LoBiondo (@RepLoBiondo) July 16, 2018
Republican Tom MacArthur, who represents New Jersey’s 3rd District, said:
“Just days ago, our nation’s Department of Justice indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for meddling in the 2016 election. Clean and fair elections are the bedrock of our more than 200 year old democracy. The United States, especially the President, should take any foreign government’s attempt to influence election results as a threat to our democracy itself.
I take issue with President Trump blaming the state of our relationship on our supposed ‘foolishness and stupidity.’ Our relationship with Russia is strained because of Vladimir Putin’s actions. He has invaded his neighbors, attacked America’s allies, and interfered with our elections and the elections of our closest allies. Putin is a corrupt, murderous thug and cannot be trusted. He is a threat to global security, and we need to remind our friends and our foes that the United States stands strongly opposed to this autocratic kleptocrat.”
4th District Republican Congressman Chris Smith said:
“Today’s summit broached crucial issues affecting human rights in many countries, election interference, the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, and terrorism, among other serious concerns.
“The summit must be just the beginning of an important conversation between the two world powers with the hope of changing, or at least beginning to mitigate, a totally unacceptable status quo on these human rights issues. I pressed Russian lawmakers on these concerns at a bilateral meeting that I led last week in Berlin, and the U.S. must continue to push for improvement in these areas.
“On the issue of election meddling, I have called on the Department of Justice to immediately work to have the 12 indicted Russian intelligence officers Red Noticed by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), so that they could be apprehended any time they leave Russia and then transferred to the United States for full prosecution.
“We must work for peace in Syria with immediate and unfettered access to humanitarian aid workers there and accountability for the perpetrators of war crimes. In Ukraine, the unlawful annexation of Crimea and Russian military expansion into Eastern Ukraine must immediately cease and a cease-fire, as outlined in the Minsk Agreement, and a UN peacekeeping mission should be deployed there.
“The U.S. can also work with Russia to immediately improve its dismal record in fighting human trafficking and help stop the suffering of Russian women trafficked around the globe.”
5th District Congressman Josh Gottheimer posted on his Facebook page:
“Republicans and Democrats agree that we cannot give Vladimir Putin a pass for Russia’s unprecedented and well-documented attacks on our elections and institutions. Our national security is not a partisan issue, and those who threaten it must be held responsible to prevent future attacks.”
“With our national security on the line, we must stand together to hold Russia accountable for its unprecedented and well-documented attempts to undermine our safety and our democratic institutions. I urge the Administration to reverse course and stand by the sound assessment of our entire national security community. There is no room for politics here.”
Frank Pallone, a Democrat who serves the 6th District, tweeted:
Today Trump propped up a dictator by allowing Putin to tell lie after lie without being challenged. Hard to a remember a time when an American President was so weak on the world stage.
— Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) July 16, 2018
Just to be clear, President Trump sided with Putin- a former KGB intelligence officer – instead of every US intelligence agency on Russian election tampering. Simply astounding.
— Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) July 16, 2018
7th District Congressman, Republican Leonard Lance, tweeted:
The President is wrong; we cannot trust the word of Putin. We must trust our U.S. intel assessment as well as investigations by House/Senate Intel committees that concluded Russia interfered in our election & continues to be hostile to the U.S. & democracies around the world.
— Rep. Leonard Lance (@RepLanceNJ7) July 16, 2018
Albio Sires, a Democrat representing New Jersey’s 8th District, said:
“Just 3 days after 12 Russian agents were indicted for sustained efforts to influence the 2016 presidential elections, President Trump stood silently on stage as Vladimir Putin lied about the interference. To make matters worse, President Trump then had the audacity to blame America for not being friendly enough towards Putin. It is completely unacceptable that Trump shows no interest in holding Putin accountable for the blatant and extensive Russian efforts to tamper with our democracy.
I am outraged that President Trump ignored his own intelligence agencies, legitimized Putin’s denial of involvement, and refused to name Putin as the dangerous adversary that he is. President Trump is doing a disservice to Americans by not standing up for the country he is supposed to be leading. Protecting the integrity of our electoral system must be a national priority for all those who value a representative democracy and President Trump should support a complete investigation into Russia’s role in interfering with the 2016 election.”
9th District Democrat Bill Pascrell said on Twitter:
The duplicitous event we just saw is nothing less than a sell-out to a dictator. Standing next to Putin, Trump attacked a free press, our intelligence services, & Democrats. It is a low moment in US history. At long last, will any members of @HouseGOP show decency & speak up?
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. (@BillPascrell) July 16, 2018
Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat who serves the 10th District in New Jersey, said:
“Vladimir Putin is not a competitor. He is a master manipulator and an enemy to democracy. Last week’s federal indictment of twelve Russian military officers for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election is further evidence pointing to the conclusion that Mr. Putin did his best to elect his favored candidate. President Trump should have canceled his meeting with Mr. Putin and demanded a comprehensive, enforceable agreement that Russia will end its attacks on democratic elections.
“Our intelligence agencies tell us that Russia attacked the United States. Trump’s own Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of Intelligence came out last week and said that Russia is targeting our electoral system and that the system is blinking red. But rather than hold Mr. Putin to account for his attack against our nation, President Trump blamed the United States for being a victim. It is clear that Donald Trump’s loyalties lie with Russia, not the United States.”
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican who represents the 11th District, said:
“It is unacceptable that the President of the United States would deny the findings of our own intelligence community on Russian meddling in the last election and then fail to publicly demand an end to these attacks on our democracy. The American people have every right to be upset!”
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat representing New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, said:
“President Trump and his political allies are under investigation for possibly helping Russia throw the election. Just a few days ago, our Justice Department indicted Russian intelligence officers for hacking the DNC. All of our nation’s intelligence agencies have verified that Russia engaged in deliberate efforts to disrupt the United States’ democratic process. But today at a joint press conference, when asked if he holds Russia accountable for anything, Trump said “we’re all to blame.” Hours later, a Russian national with Trump campaign ties has been charged with conspiracy to act as a foreign agent.
This meeting should have been cancelled. This President shouldn’t have wanted to chitchat with Putin alone, behind closed doors, knowing what he’s tried to do. Anyone elected to public office who can continue to turn a blind eye to Trump’s actions just for partisan gains doesn’t deserve their title. This man, and his administration, have made it crystal clear whose side they’re on, whose talking points they’re following, and whose interests they intend to represent — and I can tell you they’re not ours.”
This article has been updated from the time of publishing to include Rep. Gottheimer’s statement.