Democrats and some Republicans criticize Trump over statements about Putin


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Democrats and some Republicans criticized President Donald Trump for statements made during a joint news conference with Russian leader Vladmir Putin.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, called it “truly a low point in the history of American foreign policy” and a “disgraceful setback to the United States’ global leadership.”

Ryan said: “Every American, regardless of political stripes, should be shaken by what we witnessed [Monday] in Helsinki. President Trump must be rebuked for deliberately undermining – for his own craven political purposes – nearly a century of Western cooperation at the urging of an aggressive foreign adversary who does not share our values of personal and political freedom. Our country’s official National Security Strategy accuses Russia of being a ‘competitor’ intent on ‘eroding American security and prosperity.’ In normal circumstances, most Americans would expect the U.S. president to stand up for U.S. law enforcement and intelligence community, the U.S. military, and our own national sovereignty against such an adversary. Clearly, this president disagrees.”

David Betras, chairman of Mahoning County’s Democratic Party, said: “We all know [Trump’s] childish and he’s corrupt. He certainly didn’t put the American people first or American institutions first. Americans want leaders they can trust had he demonstrated he can’t be trusted. The question is what will the Republicans do?”

During the news conference, Trump refused to publicly condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“The intelligence experts we trust to keep America safe have said that Russia continues to threaten our democracy and our critical infrastructure, and the president missed an opportunity to do something about it,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat. “The Ukrainian community in Ohio knows all too well the dangers of unchecked Russian aggression. We must demand Russia turn over the spies who hacked our election and show Putin we will not put up with threats to our infrastructure that undercut our democratic institutions.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, who’s been a vocal supporter of the president came somewhat to Trump’s aid with his statement.

“Make no mistake about it, Vladimir Putin is a tyrant. He uses fear and intimidation to accomplish his goals, and the evidence of that is his violation of international law when he invaded Ukraine. [Monday], I was hoping to hear the president make a stronger public statement condemning Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election, the evidence of which is clear. However, I wasn’t in the room during the meeting, and I don’t know what was said behind closed doors, and neither does anyone else.”

Johnson added: “But, what we do know is that actions speak louder than words. In all of [Monday’s] rhetoric, we can’t forget that President Trump has been tougher on Russia than both President Obama and President Bush: he armed opposition forces in Ukraine, he imposed tougher economic sanctions on Russia that still exist today, and he defied Russian warnings when he directly confronted the Russian-backed [Bashar] Assad regime in Syria with military force.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican said: “The president’s comments in today’s press conference were troubling. He failed to stand up to Vladimir Putin on some of the most critical security issues facing our country and our allies. There is a consensus in the intelligence community that Russia meddled in our elections and continues to try to destabilize democracies around the world. Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. When given the opportunity, President Trump did not hold President Putin to task for election meddling, for the illegal annexation of Crimea, or for the continued aggression in Eastern Ukraine.”

Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who has frequently criticized Trump, said: “The president’s appearance with Putin was not in America’s best interest. Simply put, President Trump is wrong. Putin’s words should never be given equal weight of our own director of national intelligence. Putin is a KGB operative trying to undermine the West and supporting other murderous dictators. He cannot and should not be trusted. Other American leaders, in both parties, should speak with one voice and let the world know we are not on the side of Russia.”

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