(CNSNews.com) – Former Obama administration officials came out firing in response to President Trump’s press conference comments with Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him variously of treasonous behavior, siding with Russia against his own country, “bowing to Putin” and having become a threat to U.S. national interests.
Several suggested implicitly that members of the administration should resign in protest and that the onus is on Republicans to repudiate their president.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry said Trump in Helsinki “surrendered lock, stock and barrel to President Putin’s deceptions about the attacks on America’s democracy. This is insanity.”
“No one should let this news cycle pass and just go back to business as usual,” he said, directing his advice at members of “the president’s party.”
Kerry and others pointed in particular to Trump’s response when asked whether he believed Putin’s denial of interference in the 2016 election, or the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did meddle.
Trump replied, “My people came to me – [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others – they said they think it is Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it is not Russia. I will say this: I do not see any reason why it would be.”
Trump added that he has “great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan, who has become an outspoken social media critic of President Trump, accused the president of impeachable conduct.
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Brennan’s acting predecessor at the CIA, Michael Morell, tweeted that Trump had “undermined the very people who are working tirelessly to keep us safe. They deserve better. So do we all.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a tweet posted ahead of the summit, referred to the Russian-hosted soccer World Cup and said, “Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”
After the post-summit press conference, Clinton tweeted simply, “Well, now we know.”
Former ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power’s verdict was blunt: “A cowardly, indefensible performance.”
Former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who led the U.S. negotiating team in the Iran nuclear negotiations, said on Twitter, “We now know – it’s not America first, it’s Donald Trump first. The president is on his own team or Putin’s team but not America’s team. Devastating press conference.”
In an appearance on MSNBC, Sherman said, “It’s time for Americans to be out on the streets and to speak up about the democracy that we hold dear, the values we hold dear, and what we expect of the president of the United States.”
Former State Department spokesman John Kirby, a military and diplomatic analyst on CNN, told the network, “I can’t believe I'm actually going to say this, but the disgrace is our commander-in-chief right now.”
Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security advisor in the Obama White House, accused Trump of “bowing to Putin.”
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice retweeted without comment several critical posts, including one by Martin Indyk, Obama’s special Mideast envoy, who said, “The Trump-Putin press conference made one thing clear: The President of the United States has become a threat to the national interests of the United States.”
Rice also retweeted a post from Larry Summers, National Economic Council director under Obama, who said the resignations of key administration officials would see the president “gone in a month.”
“If the WH COS, SEC DEF, SEC STATE, SEC TREAS, AND AG all resigned in protest, Trump would be gone in a month,” Summers tweeted. ‘How can they believe they should not leave en masse?”
Rice also retweeted a Washington Post column headlined, “If you work for Trump, quit now.”
Some leading Republicans did voice concern about the press conference statements, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) – long a leading critic of Putin – saying in a searing statement that “the damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.”
Other GOP lawmakers expressing dismay included Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an ally of the president, weighed in on Twitter: “President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected – immediately.”