PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says President Donald Trump’s comments about Russian election meddling are “deeply unnerving.”
The Democrat issued a statement Monday after Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at a joint news conference in Finland.
Trump did not strongly condemn the interference efforts, which U.S. intelligence agencies insist did occur, including hacking of Democratic emails, the subject of last week’s indictment of 12 Russians.
Members of Congress, including some Republicans, criticized Trump’s performance.
Whitehouse says both parties should come together to protect American institutions, including the law enforcement and intelligence communities working to hold Russia responsible for its actions.
He says it’s clear Trump is unwilling to protect them himself.
.@realDonaldTrump‘s statements today are deeply unnerving, as is his abandonment of many of our closest allies in recent days.
Read my entire statement: https://t.co/wL0Xslfsap #HelsinkiSummit— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) July 16, 2018
Sen. Jack Reed called the meeting “disgraceful” and suggested that Trump “did real harm to America” by praising Putin and accepting his denials of the meddling claims.
“I urged President Trump not to go through with this ill-advised meeting because I thought he’d let Putin off the hook for attacks on our democracy, which he did, in disastrous fashion,” Reed wrote.
At times today, President Trump sounded more like Putin’s press agent than the President of the United States. Some of his comments could have come straight from a Russian disinformation operation. My full statement: https://t.co/9GU8FUDklR— Senator Jack Reed (@SenJackReed) July 16, 2018
Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted that Trump took to the international stage Monday to “embarrass America, undermine our institutions, weaken our alliances, & embrace a dictator.”
Sen. Edward Markey said it was a “national embarrassment that President Trump would put defending the legitimacy of his own election over defending American democracy.”
Trump on Monday said there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russians. In a tweet, he blamed the poor U.S. relationship with Russia on “many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”
Rep. Katherine Clark Trump called Trump’s performance “disgusting and dangerous.” Rep. William Keating said it was impossible to distinguish Trump’s words from Russian propaganda.