"I think President Putin knows that better than anyone, certainly a lot better than the media. That's pretty tough", Democratic Senator Chris Coons said in a hallway interview late last week with Reuters. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Helsinki last week that he supported Trump in 2016 because of Trump's conciliatory outlook toward Russia. Pretty hard to say: 'C'mon guys, don't take that too seriously.' I mean, what representative of any industry could credibly make that argument? Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russian Federation than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats.
The president met with Putin on the sidelines of two worldwide summits past year - first Germany, then Vietnam - and both times he invited his Russian counterpart to the White House, according to three current and former administration officials.
Under pressure from Congress, which a year ago passed a tough sanctions law targeting Russia, the U.S. Treasury in April imposed sanctions on Russian officials and oligarchs for election meddling and "malign" activities. At Helsinki, Trump and Putin agreed that they could work together on humanitarian issues in Syria where their militaries are cooperating well to avoid unintended run-ins, Israel's security in the Golan Heights area, arms control issues (New Start Treaty extension), terrorism and so on.
In the same paragraph, however, Reuters noted that Putin denied any Russian meddling in the USA elections, illustrating the weird dichotomy of Putin's words suddenly being treated as gospel truth when they seem to agree with the USA intelligence narrative, but being treated as worthless otherwise.
Shortly after Trump's appearance with Putin in Helsinki, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued an unusual statement reaffirming his view that Russia's election attacks are already ongoing - something Trump's post on Tuesday did not. The imposition of sanctions on India would have impacted military ties and pushed New Delhi back to its Cold War-era friend - Russian Federation.More news: US, Russian FMs discuss Helsinki meeting fruits
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Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina criticized Trump directly. "This legislation will help to secure our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy, by swiftly imposing harsh sanctions" if Russian Federation again attempts "to influence or undermine faith in our electoral process". Trump has since clarified his remarks to side with the intelligence community.
At the same time, Trump has also sought to portray his summit with Putin in a positive light.
The Republican Senate leader also backed away from Trump's suggestion Tuesday that any potential Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections would be to favor Democrats.
Pompeo told senators how strongly he has warned the Russians not to interfere in American elections after the wave of "active measures" they launched against the United States in 2016.
"We need all of our Republican colleagues to conduct oversight not just use strong words", said Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight panel.