Conservative strategist takes leave of absence after controversy over Kavanaugh tweets
Gingrich: Putin press conference was 'most serious mistake' of Trump's presidency
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a longtime supporter of President Trump, declared on Monday that Trump's performance at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was "the most serious mistake of his presidency."
The comments from the former Speaker came after the U.S. president challenged his own intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election during a joint news conference with Putin.
"They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin - he just said it's not Russia," Trump said, adding that he does not "see any reason why it would be" Russia.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia. But his remarks on Monday were an extraordinary break from his own administration, which last week indicted 12 Russian officials on charges of hacking Democratic servers in 2016.
The president's comments prompted criticism from both sides of the aisle and a statement from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats standing by the intelligence community's determination that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
"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.