Trump, at Putin’s Side, Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election

In the United States, critics of Mr. Trump reacted quickly to the day’s events. Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, responded sharply to Mr. Trump’s statement that Russia and the United States shared blame for their deteriorated relationship.

“This is bizarre and flat-out wrong,” he said in a statement. “The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people, but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”

The summit meeting capped a weeklong European trip in which Mr. Trump disparaged NATO allies, castigated Germany as a captive of Russia, criticized the British prime minister on her own soil and branded the European Union a “foe,” while musing about his wish for warmer relations with Mr. Putin, whom his government considers a potentially dangerous adversary to be countered. On Friday, Dan Coats, Mr. Trump’s director of national intelligence, said of Russian cyberattacks on the United States, “the warning lights are blinking red again.”

Yet Mr. Trump began his day on Monday on Twitter, blaming the years of escalating tension between the United States and Russia on American “foolishness and stupidity,” as well as the “Rigged Witch Hunt,” his term for Mr. Mueller’s probe.

The Russian Foreign Ministry recirculated the comment, which appeared to absolve Moscow of the other irritants in the relationship — including the election hacking, the illegal annexation of Crimea, its backing for rebels in Ukraine and for the Assad regime in Syria, and its suspected use of a nerve agent to poison people in England — chiming in, “We agree.”

As Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump emerged from a longer-than-expected set of talks that included a 130-minute one-on-one session with no advisers present, they said they had made progress in forging the bond both were seeking.

“We had direct, open, deeply productive dialogue,” Mr. Trump said. “It went very well.”

Mr. Putin said the two were “glad with the outcome of our first full-scale meeting,” adding, “I hope that we start to understand each other better, and I’m grateful to Donald for it.”

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