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Trump makes no direct mention of Russia in speech to Congress

Trump makes no direct mention of Russia in speech to Congress
© Greg Nash

President Trump did not directly mention Russia during his address to Congress Tuesday evening, though Moscow’s efforts to influence the U.S. elections have dogged his first month in office.

Trump did, however, indicate that his administration is willing to “forge new partnerships” with nations who in the past were enemies of the U.S.

The intelligence community concluded in January that Russia waged a sophisticated influence campaign against the presidential election aimed at undermining trust in American democracy and damaging Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE. Trump treated the conclusions with skepticism, though lawmakers in both chambers have mobilized to investigate Moscow’s efforts.

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The new administration has also been dogged by media reports about Trump campaign aides having repeated contact with Russian officials ahead of the election. 

Earlier in February, Michael Flynn stepped down as national security adviser after The Washington Post reported that he discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, which administration officials had previously denied.  

Trump has focused on the intelligence community as the source of leaks about his administration.

Trump raised eyebrows throughout the campaign season by making positive statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin and indicating that he would like to foster closer ties with Moscow. On a phone call in late January, Trump and the Putin discussed coordinating to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align,” Trump said at the end of his speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. “We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace, wherever peace can be found.”

“America is friends today with former enemies,” he said. “Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars.  This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.”

At the same time, the president underscored his commitment to NATO, which has bolstered its defenses in Europe to counter Russian aggression.

Trump also avoided other topics that have stirred up controversy: He did not attack the press, nor did he make allegations of widespread voter fraud.