Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer exploded Friday at President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for accepting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. presidential election.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Trump had accepted Putin’s claims that Russia did not interfere in the election, which flies in the face of exact opposite claims from the American intelligence community.
For Schumer, Trump and Tillerson’s acceptance of Putin’s assurances is an outrage, though almost immediately after reports emerged of Lavrov’s statement, a senior Trump administration official denied that Trump accepted Putin’s claims on the matter.
“President Trump had an obligation to bring up Russia’s interference in our election with Putin, but he has an equal obligation to take the word of our Intelligence Community rather than that of the Russian President,” Schumer said in a statement. “For Secretary Tillerson to say that this issue will remain unresolved is disgraceful — To give equal credence to the findings of the American Intelligence Community and the assertion by Mr. Putin is a grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia to further interfere in our elections in the future.”
“Working to compromise the integrity of our election process cannot and should not be an area where ‘agree to disagree’ is an acceptable conclusion,” Schumer added. “Congress and Americans of all political persuasions and parties should do all they can to increase sanctions on Russia and prevent the reduction of any sanctions by the executive branch.”
Prior to the meeting, Trump somewhat hedged the claim that Russia was responsible for interference, and further cited the intelligence community’s failure in assessing the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
“Well I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people and other countries,” Trump said. “It could have been a lot of people interfered.”
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