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Trump lawyer defends president on Russia: ‘At least there’s a relationship’

President Trump's personal lawyer on Tuesday defended the president's relationship with Russia, saying he is reducing tensions between the U.S. and Moscow.

Asked on CNN's "New Day" whether there is "regret" over Trump having been so "forgiving" of Russia in the past, Michael Cohen responded: "At least there's a relationship that's been started between the president and President Putin."

"Now he can actually reach out to him and have a conversation with him that's not already predicated on tension. The president will get done what he needs to get done," Cohen added.

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Top Trump officials have turned up the heat on Russia following a chemical weapons attack last week in northern Syria. The attack, allegedly carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, killed more than 80 civilians.

In retaliation, the U.S. launched a missile strike last week on a Syrian military air base.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that Russia needs to choose between its alliance with the Syrian president and cooperation with the U.S. in opposing the Syrian regime.

"We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role," Tillerson told reporters.

"Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia's interests longer term."

The U.S. airstrikes in Syria received support from many world leaders, but Russia condemned the attack as an act of "aggression."
 
On Monday, a senior administration official disputed a report that the U.S. had determined Russia knew about last week's chemical attack beforehand. The official said there is no U.S. intelligence community consensus Russia had "foreknowledge of the Syrian chemical attack."