Durbin, Senior Dem Senators: President Trump Must Cancel Meeting With Putin Unless He Makes Attack On U.S. Election Number One Issue
SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in calling on President Donald Trump to cancel his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday unless he makes Russia’s attack on the U.S. election the top issue he will discuss.
“If you insist on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, we write to urge that you include senior members of your team and not meet one-on-one with Mr. Putin, as reportedly planned,” the members wrote. “If you are not prepared to make Russia’s attack on our election the top issue you will discuss, then you should cancel the Helsinki summit. Mr. Putin is not a friend of the United States.”
Yesterday, 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 yesterday’s indictment is available here.
Earlier this 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.
Full text of the letter is available here and below:
July 14, 2018
Dear President Trump:
If you insist on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, we write to urge that you include senior members of your team and not meet one-on-one with Mr. Putin, as reportedly planned. Mr. Putin is a trained KGB intelligence veteran who will come to this meeting well-prepared. As the Kremlin said last week, a one-one-one meeting with you “absolutely suits” him. There must be other Americans in the room.
If you are not prepared to make Russia’s attack on our election the top issue you will discuss, then you should cancel the Helsinki summit. Mr. Putin is not a friend of the United States. The unanimous judgment of the professional men and women of the United States intelligence community is that Russia, at Mr. Putin’s direction, undertook a sophisticated campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – a judgment that was just last week upheld in a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Just yesterday, the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents for hacking the computer networks of U.S. political organizations. These follow previous indictments of 13 Russians associated with the St. Petersburg “troll factory.” These individuals must be brought to the United States so that they can stand trial, and you should demand that Mr. Putin hand them over.
Our intelligence leaders unanimously assess that Mr. Putin will continue to try to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections. Russia continues its aggressive policy to undermine NATO, European solidarity, and Western institutions and norms. It continues to support a murderous regime in Syria, and to destabilize and occupy parts of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin wants to see the West divided and weakened. You must not play into his aims.
We hope that you will use the opportunity of a meeting with Mr. Putin to advance a well-coordinated U.S. message, supported by senior leaders in your own administration, to hold Russia accountable for its unacceptable behavior. To do so, you must rely on the expertise and the experts of the State Department, Defense Department, CIA and other U.S. government agencies – not wing it on your own.
CC: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
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