Republicans and Democrats from both Idaho and Washington had strong words for President Trump’s meeting in Helsinki Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ranging from a blown chance to “horrifying and deeply alarming.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, said Trump “missed the opportunity” to deliver a stronger message to his Russian counterpart.
“I do not believe that Russia is a friend of the United States,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I put more trust, always, in our intelligence agencies over Putin.”
While it’s good to keep lines of communications open, the United States must remain vigilant against Russian activities, she said. Congress took strong action last year with sanctions in response to previous Russian activities and House committees will look at further actions as needed, she added
Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican who serves on both the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, said nothing he heard changed his views.
“Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and is no friend of the United States,” Risch said in a statement released by his office Monday afternoon. “The United States must stand from a position of strength in our relationship with Russia and in defense of our allies and shared values.”
Sen. Mike Crapo, the senior Idaho Republican, said he remains “deeply concerned” by Russian behavior in recent years, and introduced the sanctions bill that passed to penalize the country for actions in Crimea and Ukraine, interference in elections and aggression in Syria.
“My views remain unchanged. We need actions, not words, from Russia to keep our relationship moving forward.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a regular critic of Trump, was scathing in her criticism of the news conference which followed the two leaders’ private meeting.
“It was truly horrifying and deeply alarming to see the President of the United States stand with the President of Russia in undercutting the work of our intelligence agencies and law enforcement and blaming America for the attacks on our elections and our democracy,” she said in news release.
Trump failed to push Putin to end his attacks on the elections and defended him “on all fronts,” Murray said. “This is appalling and inexcusable.”
On Twitter, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Putin again denied Russian interference and Trump again refused to call him out.
“Free and fair elections (are) the bedrock of our democracy and they must be fiercely defended,” Cantwell said in a tweet. “The president should have addressed this issue today.”
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