Minnesota GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen has joined several Republican colleagues in criticizing President Donald Trump's press conference performance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Trump failed to back U.S. intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, instead favoring Putin's denial by saying he doesn't "see any reason why" Russia would be responsible.
The comments have caused uproar, even among some conservative commentators and media outlets that are usually staunch backers of the president.
Rep. Paulsen has been making efforts to distance himself from the president as he prepares for a tough battle in his 3rd District with DFLer Dean Phillips in this November's mid-terms.
And this effort continued on Monday, when he described Trump's comments at the press conference as "dangerous."
"President Trump's performance in Helsinki was embarrassing," he wrote on Facebook. "An American President taking the side of a Russian dictator over American intelligence agencies is dangerous.
"Russia is not our ally and should be confronted about its actions. It’s clear they meddled in our elections, and they should be held accountable for it."
Minnesota's other Republican congressmen, Reps. Jason Lewis and Tom Emmer, have not yet commented publicly about the press conference.
BMTN contacted both of their offices for comment on Monday, but has yet to hear back. This story will be updated should they reply.
Sen. Smith: Performance 'nothing short of disgraceful'
Unsurprisingly, Minnesota's Democrats have been more forthcoming about the display.
Sen. Tina Smith called it "nothing short of disgraceful," saying the evidence gathered so far and the subsequent indictments of Russian nationals shows there is "no question that Russia attacked our democracy in 2016."
"When asked today to choose between our own country’s intelligence community and Vladimir Putin—the leader of a hostile foreign power—President Trump refused to choose, and instead blamed our own country.
"This is a shocking development when I thought I couldn’t be shocked any more."
Eighth District Rep. Rick Nolan, who's the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Lori Swanson, said: "It's outrageous & unprecedented that Donald Trump would publicly dismiss Russian meddling in our elections less than 72 hours after the DOJ indicted 12 additional Russian officials.
"The President had the chance to put America First & failed miserably."
Rep. Keith Ellison has also had plenty to say.