The most significant response came from Dan Coats, Trump’s director of national intelligence, who pushed back on Trump’s comments in a statement that was reportedly not cleared by the White House. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Coats said. Republican Senator Richard Burr, who chairs the intelligence committee, issued an even harsher statement, saying, “Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been. Nor does he want to be our friend. His regime’s actions prove it. We must make clear that the United States will not tolerate hostile Russian activities against us or our allies.”
At an event held by the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.–based foreign-policy think tank, Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, along with members of parliament from Ukraine, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom, communicated their firm belief to reporters that Congress would reject attempts by Trump to dramatically shift U.S. policy in favor of Russia. Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to challenge Trump, but on Russia matters, many have come out swinging along with their Democratic colleagues.
GOP Congressman Will Hurd, a former CIA official, told CNN that he had “seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people in my career. I never thought the U.S. president would be one of them.” Republican Senator John McCain, known for his opposition to Putin, called the press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” and said that Trump had “abased himself … before a tyrant.” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that “the president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.” And, at the Atlantic Council, Rubio asserted that Trump’s comments about Russia were “not accurate” and that “any policy, and any rhetoric, not based” in the “reality” that Putin is not interested in a productive, working relationship with the U.S. “is counterproductive, dangerous, and will fail.”