Responding to statements from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin would like to move on from allegations that Russian interfered with the 2016 election, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) called the move “disgraceful.”
He said the President had a duty to press Putin about Russian hacking, but also an “equal obligation” to trust U.S. intelligence over the word of Russia’s president.
“For Secretary Tillerson to say that this issue will remain unresolved is disgraceful. To give equal credence to the findings of the American Intelligence Community and the assertion by Mr. Putin is a grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia to further interfere in our elections in the future,” Schumer said in a statement Friday.
Tillerson, who sat in on the meeting between Trump and Putin, said Trump opened up the meeting asking Putin about the election interference and eventually talked about how to move on from the issue because the two countries will never agree on what happened.
“Working to compromise the integrity of our election process cannot and should not be an area where ‘agree to disagree’ is an acceptable conclusion,” Schumer said. “Congress and Americans of all political persuasions and parties should do all they can to increase sanctions on Russia and prevent the reduction of any sanctions by the executive branch.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, put out a separate statement, saying the reports that the President pressed Putin on the election hacking would have had “much more force” if Trump hadn’t just questioned who was behind the attack and discredited U.S. intelligence in a speech the day before.
“While we proceed with our counterintelligence investigation, it is imperative that the Trump Administration refrain from any effort to relax or rescind the sanctions already in place. They also cannot seek to undermine congressional action toughening sanctions in response to Russia’s brazen assault on American democracy,” he said.