Donald Trump Blames Everyone but Vladimir Putin, Including His Justice Department, at Incredible Press Conference

President Donald Trump refused to offer any criticism of Russia or President Vladimir Putin on Monday during their joint press conference when asked if Russia shared any blame for poor relations between the two nuclear-armed nations.

Trump, whose comments were compared by some as similar to his blame of "both sides" for last year's racially charged Charlottesville, Virginia, riots, was answering a question about his early morning tweet and apparent blame of the U.S. for "foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"

The president's response at the Finland Presidential Palace was a reiteration of his denial of any collusion between his campaign and Russia, while again refusing to cast any blame on Putin's regime despite the assertion of the U.S. intelligence community or the charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against 12 Russian military officers.

"And I say it all the time. There was no collusion," Trump said. "I didn't know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was not collusion with the campaign, and every time you hear all of these, 12, 14…It's stuff that has nothing to do, and frankly they admit these are not people involved in the campaign…But to the average reader out there, they're saying 'maybe it does.' It doesn't.

Trump summed up: "We ran a brilliant campaign and that's why I'm president."

"There was no collusion," Pres. Trump says at joint presser with Russian Pres. Putin. "I didn't know the president. There was nobody to collude with."

"We ran a brilliant campaign and that's why I'm president."

— ABC News (@ABC) July 16, 2018

Later during the press conference, Putin said he directly again denied any interference in the 2016 election when he and Trump met earlier in the day.

"President Trump mentioned the issue of the so-called interference of Russia in the American elections, and I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere in internal American affairs, including election process," Putin said.

Trump was later asked whether he believed Putin or the U.S. intelligence community—which has pegged Russia with meddling—and the president responded "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia who interfered.

Stunning. Trump, asked directly who he believes: Putin or the US intelligence community on election meddling. He instead attacks the FBI for not going after DNC server and Clinton emails. “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia who attacked the US

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 16, 2018

Putin, however, did admit that the hoped Trump did win the election, citing the president wanting to normalize relations.

"Yes, I did," Putin said. "Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."

President Trump also spent much of the conference blasting the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server, and called the recent testimony of FBI agent Peter Strzok a "disgrace."

Critics of the president seized on his failure to blame Putin, much like his initial response of not defaming white nationalists after the violence in Charlottesville.

The president tries to pull a “both sides” on the Putin v US intel and ends up essentially confessing to the world that he believes Putin more the the United States of America and its agencies.

— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) July 16, 2018

Disgusting. Trump, given chance to criticize Putin actions, embraces false equivalence that both sides are to blame, talks no collusion, but declines to criticize Putin for interference.

— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) July 16, 2018

The United States Department of Justice has indicted Russian intelligence agents for interfering with our election.

President Trump says both sides are to blame and castigates the Department of Justice's work in indicting those individuals.

— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) July 16, 2018
President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin attend a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Monday. The U.S. and Russian leaders opened a historic summit in Helsinki, with Donald Trump promising an "extraordinary relationship" and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to thrash out disputes around the world. AFP via Getty Images/Yuri Kadobnov

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts