Contradicting both his own intelligence agencies and a verbatim statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, Trump claimed on Tuesday that Russia will "be pushing hard for the Democrats" in the upcoming election, and that "They definitely don't want Trump".
Trump later walked back some of his comments, even saying he meant to say "wouldn't" when, during the press conference, he said he did not "see any reason why it would be" Russian Federation that interfered in the election.
Standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin last Monday, President Trump said he had "confidence in both parties", referring to the US and Russia.
The comments by House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reflect the unease among USA lawmakers, including Trump's fellow Republicans, about the president's outreach to Putin after their July 16 summit in Helsinki.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held the same view, arguing that Trump's press conference with Putin "proves the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically". Many Republicans have responded with statements of fierce support of the USA intelligence community, but few have criticized Trump directly.
Trump's invitation for Putin to visit Washington has also caused unease.
Then-FBI Director James Comey told the House intelligence committee in March of 2017 that Russian cyber operatives also targeted the Republican Party or related organizations or people at the same time they were accessing the systems of Democrats to hurt Clinton.
"The Russians better quit messing around in our elections", McConnell told reporters, adding that he was open to legislation to put pressure on Moscow.
Mr Trump then told CBS he held Mr Putin personally responsible for Moscow's meddling in the 2016 United States elections.
Republicans overall still say they approve of the president, as do white evangelical Christian voters.
'Following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump's job approval is back below 40 percent again, ' he said.
While some of America's present or former officials and politicians view Moscow's kompromat as the reason behind Trump's baffling press conference, China, with which the Trump administration is engaged in an all-out trade war, apparently has a different explanation.
"I think he's trolling people, honestly", Ryan said.