Washington — Connecticut lawmakers on Monday added their voices to the bipartisan outrage being expressed about President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
During that summit in Helsinki, Trump refused to support the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
Instead, Trump said, Putin gave him an “extremely strong and powerful” denial of any involvement.
“Our nation and the world has never seen such a cataclysmic foreign trip as we have just seen,” Murphy said in a speech on the Senate floor Monday.
He said Trump has made the nation a “laughingstock” overseas and indicated that he is a “pushover.”
“He will give you anything you want with no price to pay,” Murphy said.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, accused the president on Twitter of “selling the United States down the river.”
Trump’s meeting with Putin came after the Justice Department on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democratic emails as part of a broad subterfuge operation.
“Trump’s apparent acceptance of Putin’s false denial of the detailed, stunning criminal charges in the Special Counsel’s indictments constitutes a betrayal of our national security,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “When the president says Putin’s denial of culpability was ‘incredibly strong and powerful,’ he trusts a KGB thug over our own intelligence community and law enforcers.”
Blumenthal’s statement concluded, “Putin must turn over Russian spies named in the indictments for trial in the United States.”
Trump’s one-on-one visit with Putin, and joint press conference with the Russian president afterwards, was criticized by a number of Republicans as well.
“I trust the assessments of (Director of National Intelligence) Dan Coats, (CIA Director) Gina Haspel & their teams more than I trust a former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin,” tweeted Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. “U.S. Presidents should meet w/ foreign leaders. But we must unequivocally denounce Russia’s election interference attempts & human rights abuses around the world.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a frequent critic of the president, released a statement saying, “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. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake,” McCain said.
The ailing Arizona senator also said that the Trump-Putin press conference, “coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain … marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., a Trump ally, said “President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.”
Other GOP criticism of the president was more muted – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters “the Russians are not our friends,” when asked for his reaction Monday.
And a number of Republicans defended Trump’s actions.
“I think it’s a good idea to have engagement, and I guess I don’t quite understand all of the people who have gone completely deranged criticizing the president,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
And, while a number of Republicans criticized Trump’s overtures to Putin, few are backing what Democrats say is needed – stronger sanctions against Russia.
Blumenthal joined Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in calling for the United States to take four specific steps in response to Russian hacking and meddling in U.S. elections.
Those steps are increasing the economic sanctions the United States already imposes on some Russians, demanding that the Trump national security team testify before Congress, defending the Justice Department and U.S. intelligence agencies, and demanding Putin extradite the 12 Russian intelligence officers who were indicted last week.
Meanwhile, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said she will press to include funds in a GOP spending bill to combat Russian interference in this year’s elections.
“While I welcome bipartisan condemnation for Trump’s shameful display, empty rhetoric is worthless without action to hold the President accountable and to prevent future assaults on our democracy,” DeLauro said.