Americans, both liberals and some conservatives, are calling the president out on air after his visit to Helsinki. Among them is Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto who slammed Donald Trump soon after the president appeared alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. Cavuto minced no words when he called Trump's performance "disgusting."
On his show, Your World, Cavuto's guest said that this trip to Finland was an opportunity for the president to "look Putin squarely in the eye" and assert himself as the leader of the United States. It was at this point that Cavuto interrupted his guest and said, "But he didn't. And that's what made it disgusting, that's what made his performance disgusting. I'm sorry, it's the only way I feel. It's not a right or left thing to me, it's just wrong."
Since Trump himself so often praises Fox News' favorable coverage of his presidency, moments where a Fox host bucks that perception tend to quickly go viral. Cavuto is one of them; he's broken with some of the network's more opinionated hosts, like Sean Hannity, in calling out the president when he sees fit.
During the press conference along with Putin, Trump said, among other things, "I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt this was a message best delivered in person. Spent a great deal of time talking about it. And President Putin may very well want to address it, and very strongly, because he feels very strongly about it, and he has an interesting idea."
"A U.S. president on foreign soil talking to our biggest enemy, or adversary, or competitor — I don't know how we define them these days — is essentially letting the guy get away with this, and not even offering a mild criticism. That sets us back a lot," Cavuto added.
If it helps Cavuto, as far as the definition of "competitor" goes, Trump seemed to have a positive view of the word during his visit. During his presser, Trump said, "Well actually, I called [Putin] a competitor. And a good competitor he is. And I think the word 'competitor' is a compliment."
Asserting American dominance in front of the Russian, Trump also said, "But we have lots of sources now and the United States is much different than it was a number of years ago when we weren't unable to extract what we could extract today. So today we're number one in the world at that, and I think we'll be out there competing very strongly."
In another instance, when asked if he viewed Russia responsible for anything in specific, Trump gave a vague answer, "I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. ... And I think we're all to blame."
It wasn't just Cavuto that had a few words for Trump's presser performance. CNN's Anderson Cooper, too, said that the president's handling of the press conference was devoid of grace. "You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader certainly than I've ever seen — an extraordinary press conference," Cooper said.
In addition to news anchors calling him out, Trump's Republican peers also had criticism for the president's performance, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. "The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally," Ryan said. "There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."
Ryan was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasses, among others, in his criticism for Trump's supposedly tepid stance in front of Putin. Time and again, be it slam-downs from liberals or conservatives, the main crux of their criticism seems to be that Trump made America look weak today.