Protesters rally outside the White House in Washington, U.S. on July 16, 2018 after U.S. President Donald Trump's return from Helsinki, Finland. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" slogan morphed into "Me First" as the president unloaded on the U.S. intelligence community and Justice Department to portray himself as the victim of a conspiracy to deny him legitimacy.Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who has been critical of the Russia probe, said "Russia is not our friend" and expressed hope Trump's national security aides could convince him "it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success".But after his two-hour, one-on-one meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Trump cast doubt on U.S. intelligence findings that Russia interfered in the election and dismissed special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the meddling, suggesting there is no reason to doubt Putin's denials.All the while, Trump praised his electoral success and again denied any collusion with Russia, something Putin was happy to agree with, though Putin did admit to a preference for Trump, who campaigned for better ties with Moscow.The only points of disagreement came when Putin gently chided Trump for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and when the Russian leader, not Trump himself, explained the U.S. position on Russia's annexation of Crimea.
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