Durbin: My Colleagues Are Failing To Live Up To Their Oath, Refuse To Speak Up And Denounce President Trump's Actions In Helsinki

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on his Senate Republican colleagues to speak up and put country before party following President Donald Trump’s remarks at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

"Yesterday, we watched in disbelief as the president not only refused to even acknowledge the act of cyber war against the United States, but incredibly blamed America first for our poor relationship with Russia.  We watched our American president refuse to stand up to Vladimir Putin, a former KGB official, who executed one of the most breathtaking cyber-attacks in history aimed at the United States and aimed at undermining the Western security alliance and our country’s democracy.  An American president stood on the world stage next to a tyrant – a tyrant who denies that he attacked us – and then the President of the United States repeatedly agreed with that adversary and dismissed criminal indictments of Russian government officials responsible for the attack,” Durbin said in a speech on the Senate floor.  “I’m at a loss for words to describe what happened yesterday in Helsinki, Finland.  I’m disappointed as well by the stunning silence of some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in response to it.”

Durbin also called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) stunning refusal to work with President Obama in 2016 to put out a bipartisan statement condemning Putin’s election meddling efforts so as to avoid any hint of partisanship in the election and to present a unified deterrent. 

Finally, Durbin pointed out Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) statement on President Trump’s remarks at the joint press conference with President Putin.

“There is one Republican Senator who is not silent.  My friend, the great American patriot, John McCain said yesterday, and I quote about the Helsinki press conference, ‘Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate… President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.’  I could not agree more.  It is obvious.  We, all of us, Democrats and Republicans, should agree with what John McCain said,” Durbin said.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Special Counsel Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russians for their activities to interfere in the 2016 election by engaging in a sustained operation to hack into the computer networks of Democratic campaign organizations, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and state and local election administrators and vendors.  The indicted individuals were members of Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU.  Durbin’s statement on Friday’s indictment is available here.  On Saturday, Durbin joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in calling on President Trump to cancel his meeting with President Putin unless he made Russia’s attack on the U.S. election the top issue he would discuss.

Last week, Durbin expressed deep concern about the current course of American foreign policy under President Trump. In his speech on the Senate floor, Durbin slammed President Trump's willingness to recklessly undermine allies and instead cozy up to adversaries like Russia and North Korea.