With a wink and a slouch, respectively, Mr Trump and Mr Putin opened their long-awaited summit Monday as the American leader declared that "the world wants to see us get along" and predicted rosy future relations.
As he has done with many other foreign leaders, Mr Putin kept Mr Trump waiting, landing about an hour after his scheduled arrival time.
But several Republicans who do not typically buck the President raised concerns, shocked by Monday's performance.
Even as he rejected the notion that Russian Federation had interfered in the election, Putin defended the veracity of the information that was revealed in the Democratic National Committee's hacked emails, which were made public by WikiLeaks in July 2016.
And Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who has been critical of the Russian Federation probe, said that "Russia is not our friend" and expressed hope that Trump's national security aides could convince him that "it is possible to conclude Russian Federation interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success".
Standing side by side with Vladimir Putin, Trump refused on Monday to blame the Russian leader for meddling in the 2016 USA election, casting doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and sparking a storm of criticism at home.
Putin summit: U.S. president under fire over poll meddling comments
Trump then said, for the first time , that he believes Putin: "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russian Federation . Yet, while Trump's remarks drew criticism in both parties, the reaction was more muted from the Republican side.
Former intelligence chiefs who served under then-president Barack Obama were scathing in their criticism of his remarks.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the Russians "were relentless in their efforts to meddle in the 2016 elections, and their efforts are ongoing".
A wave of condemnation immediately followed, with lawmakers calling Trump "weak" and "cowardly" while Senator John McCain said the summit was "a tragic mistake".
In this case, Trump sided with his Russian counterpart by openly questioning his own intelligence agencies' findings that Moscow was behind the 2016 US elections.
Earlier on Sunday, HRC Global Director Ty Cobb called out the leaders at a rally in Helsinki, attacking Trump's domestic policies as well. And Trump continues to reject Mueller's probe as a "witch hunt", despite the indictments of Russian hackers and intelligence officials.
"We both spoke with Bibi (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and they would like to do certain things with Syria having to do with the safety of Israel", Trump told a joint news conference.
Mr Trump called his meeting with Mr Putin "a good start, a very good start for everybody" as the two leaders and their top advisers sat across the table from one another during a luncheon.
Hawaii volcano: Flying lava injures 13 on tour boat
The remaining 9 passengers drove themselves to the hospital, and the Fire Department reported their injuries were not as serious. At least 13 people have been injured after lava smashed through the roof of a tour boat following an explosion in Hawaii.
"The President's statements today in Helsinki demonstrate his continued refusal to accept the unanimous conclusions of USA intelligence leaders and the bipartisan findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee", Collin said.
He reiterated there had been "no collusion" and that he ran a "clean campaign" and beat his Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton "easily". "It's a shame that there could even be a little bit of a cloud over it".
At the news conference Trump was invited by reporters to offer even a single criticism of Russian Federation, but repeatedly declined.
At the closing press conference, Putin, riding high after hosting a successful World Cup, unveiled a gift he'd brought for Trump: a red and white soccer ball, which he tossed to Trump at the neighboring lectern.
While Republican Senator Jeff Flake said, "I never thought I would see the day when our American president would stand on the stage with the Russian president and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression".
Putin did not answer a question on whether he has collected compromising personal material on Trump and his family.
Putin, for his part, played the role of statesman, serving as a kind of emcee and parrying questions from the press by professing incredulity at the allegations of meddling, before making an astonishing offer of a "deal" with the president.
Brexit: UK parliament vote to reveal extent of anger over May's plan
Scott Mann, MP for North Cornwall, who was a PPS to the Treasury team, says he was not prepared to accept a "watered down Brexit". He told journalists he had given the PM advice about how to handle Brexit, but Mrs May had thought it "too brutal".