Editor’s Note: Our nation is urging Republican leaders to take immediate action against President Trump, after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helinski, Finland on July 16. The following are comments from various elected officials regarding the U.S. Presidents’ meeting with the Russian President:
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
Today [July 16], in a disgusting, disturbing and deeply dangerous appearance seen around the world, Donald Trump sided with an authoritarian leader of another country over our own intelligence agencies. He refused to hold the Russian president accountable for anything – from interfering in our elections to the human rights abuses of Russian citizens. He repeatedly advanced the interests of another country over the one that he is supposed to represent.
I have always believed in diplomacy and dialogue, even with those with whom we have the greatest tensions. However, what we saw today was the President of the United States belittling our country’s own men and women in the intelligence community, refusing to acknowledge or hold accountable Putin for Russian hacking in our elections, and standing in the most servile way next to Putin, advancing Russia’s interests in spite of what that means for America. In refusing to raise any of the critical issues that lie between our countries and essentially endorsing Putin and what he stands for, Trump has left the American people wondering who this president really represents. Even more, with Trump’s refusal to accept the facts of Russian interference in our elections, he essentially invites Russia and other foreign powers to continue to attack our next elections.
What is it that Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump and how will he use that information? What was said behind closed doors in the meeting with Trump and Putin, with no witnesses there? These are the questions that every American should be asking, and that every patriot must raise. Today’s press conference was a new low in this administration’s behavior. Trump showed himself as not just naive, but dangerous for the security of our country. Today, Trump disgraced himself and our country.
This is no time for my GOP colleagues to sit back. Too much is at stake, and we must have more than talk. We need action. We need hearings, we need real money invested in protecting our election security and we need the attacks on the Mueller investigation to stop. My GOP colleagues must stop shirking their responsibility to protect our Constitution and our country, and stand up to this President. The future of our country is at stake.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th District.
Rep. Cheri Bustos
President Trump should be holding Russia accountable for its attack on our nation, instead he stood at a podium and essentially gave Vladimir Putin a pass to do whatever he wants. There is unanimous consensus among our law enforcement leaders, intelligence community and foreign affairs experts that Russia carried out a coordinated strike on our last election – the only person who refuses to accept the truth is the one person who benefitted the most from it, President Trump. We must allow the Mueller investigation to follow the facts wherever they lead, without any political interference, because the American people demand accountability.
As the President continues his attack on our media, our intelligence community and our core democratic principles, it’s the American people who pay the price every day – through a trade war that’s hurting hardworking farmers across the heartland to rising prescription drug prices that undermine families across our nation. There is a very real cost to this never-ending dysfunction coming out of the White House.
Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos serves as a Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. She also serves as a Senior Whip in the Democratic Caucus.
The American People Deserve Better
Rep. Ruben Gallego
President Trump’s meeting today [July 16] with Vladimir Putin of Russia was an appalling display of self-serving posturing by both men. Americans should expect such behavior from President Putin. They should not expect, however, to be misrepresented and abandoned by the President of the United States.
Today, Americans should have seen their President demand the extradition of Russian military intelligence officers charged last Friday with interfering in the 2016 election.
Americans should have seen their President defend the integrity of our electoral system against the collusion, meddling, and fraud which has already led to dozens of Federal indictments.
Americans should have seen their President condemn President Putin for ordering the poisoning of civilians of our closest ally, the United Kingdom.
Americans should have seen their President call on President Putin to abandon his strongman tactics and assaults on democracy, human rights, and civil liberties.
Americans should have seen their President close ranks with our European allies in NATO, improving our defense-in-depth and alliance network that remains the envy of the world.
In short, Americans should have been represented by a cool-headed, tough, moral public servant at this meeting. I regret very much that they were not.
The American people deserve better from their Commander-in-Chief.
Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego serves as a Senior Whip for the Democratic Caucus, the Second Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Vice-Chair of the Equality Caucus. Congressman Gallego currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. He served in the Marine Corps, serving in Iraq.
Rep. Ted W. Lieu
What Trump did today was utterly shameful, and a slap in the face to the professionals in the Department of Justice and our intelligence community. Today we watched a U.S. President offer total deference to a hostile foreign power while attacking U.S. institutions. By refusing to admit that Russia attacked our Democracy, or that Russia did anything wrong whatsoever, Trump is disturbingly regurgitating the Kremlin’s talking points.
Having served on active duty, I feel nauseous thinking about Trump’s statements. Despite how desensitized we’ve become to Trump’s remarkably un-presidential actions, today should stand out as obscene. What happens next will determine whether we allow our President to cede American ideals and authority to a foreign power. We’re now at a crossroads where we have to decide whether we’re willing to let blind partisan loyalty to Trump lead to the debasing of our country. After this appalling display, will the Republicans finally stand up for América?
California Congressman Ted W. Lieu serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was also appointed as an Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus. He is an Air Force Veteran.
Dangerous and Unprecedented
U.S. Senator Tom Udall
While the whole world was watching, President Trump refused to acknowledge that Russia interfered in a U.S. election and would not tell Russia to abandon its attacks on our electoral system — contrary to the unanimous conclusions of the U.S. Intelligence Community and mere days after the Department of Justice indicted 12 Russian spies for just that behavior. The president refused to defend the integrity of American democracy and instead parroted Russian propaganda. Millions of Americans want to know why.
Politics are supposed to stop at the water’s edge, and presidents of the United States are supposed to stand up for the United States. In a stunning moment in our history, President Trump went overseas and attacked the judgment and integrity of his own nation’s Intelligence Community while standing next to the leader of the government that attacked our democracy. On the eve of this summit, the president again called American journalists ‘the enemy of the people’ – hours before meeting with the leader of a regime that has killed and jailed journalists for reporting the truth.
What we are seeing is dangerous and unprecedented. I am glad that some Republicans in Congress are speaking out against this unfortunate display, but real action is needed to protect our democracy. Congress must protect the Mueller probe. And Republican leaders in Congress should convene real oversight hearings on the president’s bizarre and reckless approach to Russia and NATO as soon as he returns to the United States.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Choose Country Over Party
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
In a shocking display of submissiveness, President Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin and made it clear that his allegiance is not with the American people, and even called the United States foolish. President Trump literally sided with a former KGB agent and against our own intelligence services. A sitting American president just publicly yielded to a foreign enemy who attacked our democracy.
To my Republican colleagues, now is the time to choose country over party or forever be remembered as complicit.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New México serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Intelligence Committees. He is the Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee and the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.