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The Latest: Supporters cheer as Trump nears Helsinki hotel

July 16, 2018
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U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the airport in Helsinki, Finland, Sunday, July 15, 2018 on the eve of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

9 p.m.

Several dozen supporters of President Donald Trump, many waving American flags and sporting “Make America Great Again” caps, have cheered as the U.S. leader neared his hotel in Helsinki before his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Dozens of police cordoned off a small area Sunday night at an intersection along the route of Trump’s motorcade near the posh waterfront hotel where he and his wife, Melania, are staying.

The Trump fans, several from the True Finn anti-immigration party, said they wanted to make a show of support in a country where many people have criticized his policies.

A few scattered boos rang out from across the road.

Trump and his wife waved at the supporters, two of whom held up a handwritten banner that read “God Bless D & M Trump.”

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6:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Finland for his closely watched summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump landed in the capital city, Helsinki, late Sunday. He planned no public appearances until Monday, when he heads to the Presidential Palace for breakfast with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. Trump and Putin meet later Monday at the palace.

The president flew in from Scotland, where he and his wife, Melania, spent the weekend at a golf resort he owns there.

Trump heads into the summit with little clear agenda other than to strengthen his personal rapport with Putin, which he thinks is crucial to improving relations between Washington and Moscow.

Finland has a long legacy of hosting U.S.-Soviet and U.S.-Russian summits because of its geographic location and perceived neutrality.

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6:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the testimony of an FBI agent who was removed from the special counsel’s Russia investigation was “an absolute disgrace.”

Trump tells CBS News that he watched some of Peter Strzok’s (struhkz) testimony to Congress while traveling in Europe. He says, “I thought it was a disgrace to our country.”

Strzok was removed from the investigation following the discovery of anti-Trump text messages last year that he traded with an FBI lawyer in the run-up to the 2016 election. The texts opened the Justice Department up to claims of institutional bias. Strzok vigorously defended himself during last week’s hearing.

Trump accuses Strzok of lying and making up excuses. He says cases like Strzok’s hurt relations with Russia and other countries.

Trump taped the interview Saturday in Scotland. CBS News released excerpts Sunday.

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6 p.m.

President Donald Trump is calling the U.S. news media “the enemy of the people” as he prepares to meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who has cracked down on the free press at home.

Tweeting as he flew to Finland for Monday’s meeting with Putin, Trump says, “No matter how well I do at the Summit” he’ll face “criticism that it wasn’t good enough.”

He writes, “If I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough — that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!”

Trump also writes: “Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”

His summit with Putin is on Monday.

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4:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is on his way to Finland for a high-stakes summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s plane departed Glasgow, Scotland, just after 4 p.m. local time Sunday for the approximately three-hour flight to the Finnish capital, Helsinki.

The president has no public appearances planned after his nighttime arrival. He is due to meet with Putin on Monday.

Trump and his wife, Melania, spent the weekend at his eponymous golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, about an hour’s drive from Glasgow.

The president hit the links both days. On Saturday, he appeared to wave to a group of people who staged a protest picnic near several holes of the course that are visible from a nearby beach.

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4 p.m.

President Donald Trump is describing the European Union as a “foe” in an interview taped in Scotland.

Trump told CBS News in an interview Saturday that he thinks the U.S. has “a lot of foes,” including the bloc of European nations that are among America’s closest allies.

He says, “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.” He adds: “You wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”

He also says that Russia is a foe “in certain respects” and that China is a foe “economically.” He says of China: “But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive.”

Trump is departing for Helsinki on Sunday for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

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3:40 p.m.

A U.S. senator says it’s inevitable that Russia is going to interfere in American elections and that it’s pointless to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin about it.

Sen. Rand Paul tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. shouldn’t seek accountability from Russia. In Paul’s words — “They’re another country. They’re going to spy on us. They do spy on us. They’re going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same.”

The Kentucky Republican says Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election isn’t “morally equivalent” to U.S. interference in Russian elections. But he says, “I think in their mind it is.”

Paul also says Putin isn’t going to extradite the 12 Russian military intelligence officials charged with hacking Democrats. So Paul says “it’d be a moot point” for President Donald Trump to ask about it at their summit Monday.

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2:50 p.m.

National security adviser John Bolton says President Donald Trump has a stronger hand going into the Russia summit because of U.S. charges against 12 Russian military intelligence officials related to the hacking of Democratic targets in the 2016 presidential election.

Bolton tells ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the indictments show that the American justice system is aware of Russian efforts to meddle in U.S. elections.

He says Trump can now say to Russian President Vladimir Putin that “this is a serious matter that we need to talk about.”

Trump has said he will raise the issue when he sits down with Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

Bolton also says he finds it “hard to believe” that the Russian intelligence officials could conduct such an operation without Putin’s knowledge.

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2:35 p.m.

The top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee says he’s worried about President Donald Trump meeting one on one with Russia’s Vladimir Putin during their summit in Finland.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia says, “We know that Trump doesn’t do a lot of prep work for these meetings. He kind of goes in and wings it.”

Warner notes Putin’s KGB background and fears Putin could “take advantage” of Trump during Monday’s summit.

Warner says he’d “feel much better if there were other Americans in the room making sure that we make the point that the first and top point of this agenda should be no further Russian interference in our elections.”

Warner tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Trump “has been completely reluctant to call out Putin as a bad actor.”

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2:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Moscow says he hopes Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have “a detailed conversation about where we might be able to find some overlapping and shared interests.”

The leaders are holding a summit Monday in Helsinki.

Ambassador Jon Huntsman says the two countries now have a “fraught bilateral relationship.” The diplomat adds that “the collective blood pressure between the United States and Russia is off-the-charts high, so it’s a good thing these presidents are getting together.”

Huntsman tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expects that the two presidents will talk about “everything from meddling in the election to areas where we have some shared interests.”

He says, “The objective here is to meet, to put our cards on the table.”

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11:56 a.m.

President Donald Trump says “nothing bad ... maybe some good” will come out of his summit Monday with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Finland.

Trump says in a television interview that he’s going into the meeting with “low expectations. I’m not going with high expectations.”

The president also tells CBS News that he “hadn’t thought” about asking Putin to extradite the dozen Russian military intelligence officers indicted this past week in Washington on charges related to the hacking of Democratic targets in the 2016 U.S. election, but says that “certainly I’ll be asking about it.”

The United States has no extradition treaty with Moscow and can’t compel Russia to hand over citizens, and a provision in Russia’s constitution prohibits extraditing its citizens to foreign countries.

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