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Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks
Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks
President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation hold a joint press conference on July 16, 2018.

President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki, Finland, this week sparked a national outcry over Trump’s perceived compliance with Putin, and even Queens Republicans have mixed reactions.

Shortly after the July 16 meeting ended, Councilman Eric Ulrich — the only elected Republican lawmaker in Queens County — said on Twitter that he was “embarrassed” by Trump’s genuflection to Putin and that he values being an American before being a Republican.

“Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave right now,” Ulrich said. “The leader of the Free World basically genuflected before Putin and got nothing in return. I am an American before I am a Republican and today I am embarrassed to say the least.”

The frustration expressed by Ulrich, members of the Democratic Party and the media stems from Trump’s answers to questions about Russia’s role in tampering with the 2016 presidential election. During a joint news conference after the summit between the two leaders, Trump did not criticize Putin’s denial that Russia interfered with the election, nor did he support the findings of the FBI and other American intelligence agencies which point to Russian meddling.

The press conference came after the leaders met for two hours behind closed doors with only their interpreters joining them.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said during the press conference.

The meeting also came just three days after the indictment of 12 Russian spies stemming from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of the election tampering. During the press conference, Putin said he would go as far as inviting U.S. investigators to be present in Russia while Russian authorities interrogate the alleged spies.

Trump called that invitation “an incredible offer.”

While the president has been vocal in his opposition to the Mueller-led investigation and any accusations of collusion with Russia, many critics view his decision to not stand up for his own intelligence agencies while face-to-face with Putin as troublesome.

Still, other Republicans in Queens maintained support for the president amidst this latest wave of criticism. Joann Ariola, chair of the Queens County GOP, told QNS on July 17 that Trump did what he was supposed to do by meeting with Putin, and that it is “hard for him to get a decent portrayal of what took place” during their meeting because of all the negative media attention surrounding him.

“I’m hoping he will have benefited the U.S. at this meeting by making an initial contact with the leader of the Kremlin, and that it’s not an alliance, but a line of communications was opened,” Ariola said.

Ariola added that the Queens County GOP will continue its support of the president going forward, even when she or other members of the panel disagree with some of his statements.

I believe that constant protest for any little thing he does is an abomination,” Ariola said. “Maybe I don’t agree with every tweet he sends, but to support him in his efforts is American.”

According to the Associated Press, Trump walked back his comments from the summit after returning to the White House on July 17. The president told reporters that he accepts the intelligence agencies’ findings that Russia interfered in the election, but maintained his denial that his campaign had colluded in the effort.

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