Senators McCain, Schumer Call on Trump to Cancel Putin Meeting Following New Indictments in Russia Probe
Two top senators on Friday called for President Donald Trump to cancel his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Justice Department announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals, that accused them of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks.
Sen. John McCain praised the Department of Justice’s announcement of the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, adding President Donald Trump shouldn’t meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin unless he holds him accountable.
“President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world,” the Arizona senator said in a statement Friday. “If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, issued a statement saying the meeting should not go ahead until “Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections.”
“Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy,” the statement read.
Though he did not call for a cancellation, Sen. Ben Sasse also issued a statement that said “all patriotic Americans” should know Putin is not “the President’s buddy.”
“The US intelligence community knows that the Russian government attacked the US,” he said in the statement. “This is not a Republican or a Democrat view — it is simply the reality. All patriotic Americans should understand that Putin is not America’s friend, and he is not the President’s buddy. We should stand united against Putin’s past and planned future attacks against us.”
The call to cancel the summit came after a week in which Democrats have expressed widespread concerns about Trump’s ability to sit down and challenge Putin in a one-on-one meeting, which is scheduled for Monday.
In an interview on Capitol Hill, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he is concerned that the President’s “ad-hoc” style of going into meetings and “winging it” is not appropriate and that the meeting should be called off with Putin.
Warner said he’s concerned the US “President can be taken advantage of” by Putin, and that if a meeting cannot have additional attendees it should be scrapped.
“There should be no one-on-one meeting between this President and Mr. Putin,” Warner told reporters Friday.
The top Democrat in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, did not specifically call on Trump to cancel his meeting, but demanded the US President stand up to Putin.
“The stakes for the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting could not be higher,” Pelosi said. “President Trump must demand and secure a real, concrete and comprehensive agreement that the Russians will cease their ongoing attacks on our democracy. Failure to stand up to Putin would constitute a profound betrayal of the Constitution and our democracy.”
The Justice Department announced its indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in “their official capacities.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on House Judiciary, said Trump should demand the extradition of the Russians indicted on Friday, but he predicted that would not happen.
“He should demand that,” said Nadler of New York. “I’m sure he won’t.”
Nadler said he didn’t think that Trump should cancel the summit, but he agreed that the President should not be meeting with Putin alone.