WASHINGTON – The fallout from President Donald Trump’s comments disputing the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election is ricocheting across the country among some of the most competitive U.S. Senate races that could decide which party will control the chamber next year.
With Democrats pouncing on the remarks as ammunition to gin-up anti-Trump fervor among their base, Republicans are once again trying to navigate controversial comments by a president who operates outside traditional political boundaries.
“To put it mildly, Trump’s statements about Putin are not helpful for Republican candidates across the board. They have the potential to really hurt,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. “We’ve got a long way to go (before the election) but this certainly helps Democrats.”
With Russian President Vladimir Putin standing just a feet away during Monday’s summit at the presidential palace in Helsinki, Trump essentially dismissed the findings of U.S. intelligence community under two administrations and the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee that Moscow sought to skew the election toward Trump.