House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain criticized President Donald Trump for his engagement with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. After Rep. Nancy Pelosi -- the leading House Democrat -- urged Ryan via Twitter to “stop protecting President Trump,” Ryan released a statement in which he said that there is “no question” that Russia meddled with the  2016 U.S. election despite the president’s statements at the Helsinki summit. “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Ryan said in a statement. “That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”

Ryan will not stand for election in November, and plans to go back to private life. He said in his statement, “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.” Ryan continued, saying: “The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

For his part, Republican Sen. McCain of Arizona -- a frequent critic of the president - said the Helsinki summit meeting is a "a tragic mistake" and a new low point for the United States. He accused Trump of failing to defend the United States. "Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are - a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad," McCain wrote.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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