Rudolph W. Giuliani praised President Trump’s joint press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday as “professional,” despite widespread condemnation on both sides of the aisle.

“I thought it was professional, very good,” Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and the president’s personal lawyer, told the New York Daily News. “I thought the two have a very good relationship, which we all want.”

The former Republican presidential candidate said it wouldn’t have helped matters for Mr. Trump to call Mr. Putin a liar to his face, after the Russian leader repeatedly denied his government’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

“I don’t know what it would have accomplished if Trump said, ‘I believed Putin did it,’” Mr. Giuliani said. “I don’t think we need to call Putin a liar.

“As far as I know there’s nothing showing that Putin knew about it,” he added. “We just assume Putin knew something.”

At their joint press conference in Helsinki, Mr. Trump said that while he had “great confidence” in the U.S. intelligence community, he believed Mr. Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.

Republicans and Democrats alike quickly slammed the president for being too soft on the Russian leader.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

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