McConnell backs finding of Russian interference; Paul says Trump critics mistaken


WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing behind the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections — despite President Donald Trump's latest comments.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters at the Capitol on Monday: "The Russians are not our friends." And he said he "entirely" agrees with intelligence agencies' assessment that Russians meddled in the election.

McConnell spoke several hours after Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference in Helsinki and said he didn't see "any reason" why Russia would have meddled.
Trump said Putin was "extremely strong and powerful" in denying Russian involvement.

McConnell did not respond when asked if he was disappointed in Trump's remarks.


One Republican senator says critics of President Trump's approach to Russia are "mistaken" and points out that the United States has also picked sides in other countries' elections.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says it's important for the U.S. to keep an open dialogue with its adversaries, especially if it hopes to motivate them to change their behavior.

Paul tells The Associated Press, "We should look for ways to make the dialogue better."

He says lawmakers and former intelligence officials criticizing Trump include those from both parties who are opposed to his presidency. He calls it "Trump derangement syndrome."

Paul says, "I think these people are mistaken."


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