Former GOP rep: Trump ‘betrayed his country’ in Putin press conference

Conservative radio show host Joe Walsh said President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE “betrayed his country” during his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

“In my view, Trump, for the world to see, stood in front of the world and betrayed his country,” Walsh said of Trump’s controversial performance at the Helsinki conference when the president appeared to side with Putin over his own intelligence community on Russia's election interference.

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“Now, is it surprising?” Walsh continued in an interview with Salon published on Thursday. “No, because really for 19 months he’s betrayed his country on this central issue of a foreign government attack on our country, and this president has never acknowledged it or done anything about it.”

Trump walked back his position later, saying he did accept the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

Walsh said the original comments were “unforgivable” and that he supported the president on many things but the election interference issue is “more important than any policy issues.”

“As much as I support a hell of a lot of the agenda, because I’m still a Tea Party conservative, that’s like an ultimate betrayal,” Walsh said. “It’s unforgivable and it’s more important than any policy issues, as far as I’m concerned.”

Walsh went on to say that the Russian government “literally screwed our election process to help Trump become president.”

“Any president should rally the country around fighting back against that and this president has never done it, from day one, because he’s always placed his own interest above the country’s interest. He doesn’t want anything to take away from his 2016 victory,” Walsh added.

Walsh, a former congressman who served a term in the United States House of Representatives representing Illinois's 8th Congressional District, backed Trump during his presidential campaign in 2016 but has been a frequent critic of the president since.

The ex-GOP lawmaker criticized the president earlier this year for not condemning Russia after charges were brought against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for interfering in the presidential election.

He also blasted the president in September 2017 after Democratic congressional leaders said Trump agreed to work toward a deal to protect immigrants who came to the country illegally as children from being deported.