US President Donald Trump is under fire in his country after a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which he tried to “get along with” Moscow.
“I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands,” said Texas Republican representative Will Hurd on Monday, joining a large number of Democrats, Republicans and the intelligence community members criticizing Trump.
He was reacting to the two leaders’ dismissal of collusion as well as Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, which made the Russia-friendly billionaire the president.
Upon leaving the Finnish capital Helsinki, Trump reacted to the backlash and defended his stance.
“As I said today and many times before, I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people. However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along,” he tweeted from Air Force One.
‘Russia not a friend’
The Texas GOP lawmaker also went further questioning the president’s America First claims.
“There is nothing about agreeing with a thug like Putin that puts America First,” Hurd said in a tweet.
He further assured US allies that Washington’s stance will remain anti-Russia.
“To all our allies: there are still many of us in Congress that know Russia is not just an adversary to the United States but to freedom loving people everywhere,” said the former CIA officer and a lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee. “The President is wrong… Russia interfered in the 2016 election and seeks to undermine our democracy.”
The so-called Russia probe seeks to find out whether the Russian government coordinated with Trump’s aides after the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin helped with Trump’s campaign effort ahead of winning the White House.
While the president described special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, a “disaster for our country,” he was himself blamed for why it has been prolonged.
“Why can’t the president go talk to Bob Mueller, where he’s actually already been given the questions,” California Democratic Representative asked on Hill TV.
US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, picked by Trump himself, also attested to the alleged Russian meddling.
“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Coats said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. “The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the President and policymakers.”
Since Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the US intelligence community has insisted that Moscow played a role in the election.
“He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said in Helsinki citing Putin. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also thrown his support behind the intelligence community, asserting that “Russians are not our friends.”
“I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community,”
McConnell told reporters in hallways around the Capitol Hill.
Last week, Mueller indicted 12 Russians as part of the ongoing investigation, saying they should be extradited to the US.
Other top Republicans such as the Senate’s No. 2 Republican also supported Mueller rather than their own party’s nominee for the 2016 vote.
“I don’t believe Mr. Putin and I believe our intelligence officials who produced the intelligence community assessment and I believe the indictment that Robert Mueller has now presented is well taken,” said Texas Senator John Cornyn. “I think members of Congress believe as I do that Russia did attempt to meddle in the election. That they were unsuccessful in changing the outcome. … I think [the president] is conflating two different things: The meddling and the collusion allegations, for which there does not appear to be any evidence.”
Some Democrats like California Representative Maxine Waters are working to impeach Trump while others insist that it is too early.
“I think that’s premature at this point — we should do all we can to make sure that he’s held accountable, that we conduct the investigations the Republicans have been unwilling to do.” Swalwell said. “If impeachment is the case, it’s because we found impenetrable evidence that we take to the American people and will be accepted by both Republicans and Democrats.”