Trump's news conference with Putin draws scrutiny, criticism

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Long Island congressional representatives issued swift rebukes of President Donald Trump’s remarks at the closely watched summit Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Following a tête-à-tête that lasted more than two hours, the two presidents held a joint press conference that has elicited sharp criticism after Trump appeared to side with Russia on sensitive topics, including the probe into Russian meddling. The president claimed that the Russia investigation has been a "disaster for our country," asserted that previous administrations were to blame for poor relations with Russia, and when asked about Russian meddling, Trump said of Putin, "He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) tweeted, "The president does not care that Russia attacked our democracy. And that's a total betrayal to our country."

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MORE: Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on meddling

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) posted, "Wrong for President Trump to deny Russian interference in election. No moral equivalency between U.S. and Russia. Putin is a liar and Russia is an aggressor. No purpose in denying that."

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said that Trump had "thrown America's intelligence community under the bus and sided with the Russians while on foreign soil." Suozzi said in a statement, "I cannot understand why the president continues to have a blind spot with the Russians and Putin. Something is seriously wrong."

And Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the joint press conference was "as absurd as it was scary." Cuomo's statement continued, "It's the president's job to protect our country, but this president is siding with those who attacked and sought to undermine us. Our founding fathers would roll over in their graves."

Other lawmakers, including Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, were similarly vocal with their criticism. McCain called it "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory," and said that Trump and Putin "seemed to be speaking from the same script."

Some Long Islanders who spoke to News 12 expressed concerns about Trump's relationship with Putin.

"Something is going on between the two of them," says Plainview resident Bruce Fox.

Hicksville resident Elaine McCarthy says she has a theory as to why the outspoken president seems to shy away from attacking Putin. "I think he's afraid, as much as he comes off as having a lot of authority, I don't think he stands up the way he says he will," McCarthy says.

But other Long Islanders say the summit may yield positive results, and believe that the president will be able to work with Putin on other issues such as nuclear proliferation and the crisis in Syria.

"I think he had to look forward to some of the bigger issues that he's going to have to confront Putin on," says Tom Nasti, of Hicksville.

After departing Helsinki and before arriving back in the U.S., Trump tweeted, "A productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and good for Russia, but it is good for the world."

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