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Last Updated Jul 13, 2018 4:31 PM EDT
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is denouncing the United States’ before Monday’s summit between President Vladimir Putin and President Trump in Helsinki, Finland.accused of hacking into Democratic accounts in the 2016 US elections. The ministry says “obviously, the purpose of this is to spoil the atmosphere”
The ministry’s statement blames “influential political forces of the United States, who oppose the normalization of relations between our countries and have been manufacturing blatant slander for two years.”
“It is regrettable that the circulation of false information in Washington has become the norm, and that criminal cases are brought for obvious political reasons,” the ministry says.
The Kremlin has denied that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election.
Despite the most recent indictment, the Trump-Putin meeting is “still on,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
After a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, Mr. Trump said he would address election meddling with Putin.
But the White House’s response to the grand jury’s indictment focused on how it doesn’t accuse any Americans of wrongdoing and found no evidence the alleged meddling affected the election results. It also sidesteps condemning the Russians’ alleged crimes.
“As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said today: ‘There is no allegation in this indictment that Americans knew that they were corresponding with Russians. There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There is no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result,'” Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said.
“Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”
Meanwhile, a handful of House and Senate members called on Mr. Trump to cancel the Putin summit, or at least reconsider it. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said Mr. Trump should cancel the meeting if he will not hold Putin accountable.
“President Trump must be willing to confront #Putin from a position of strength & demonstrate there will be a price to pay for his ongoing aggression. If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the #HelsinkiSummit should not move forward,” McCain said in a series of tweets Friday.
Sen. Mark Warner, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Mr. Trump should not meet with Putin one-on-one.
“There should be no one-on-one meeting between this president and Mr. Putin. There needs to be other Americans in the room,” Warner told reporters Friday.
According to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, however, the summit is “still on” despite calls that it be cancelled.
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