WASHINGTON, DC — Following President Donald Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, where he accepted Putin’s election meddling denial, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and other top Senate Democrats sent a letter to Trump seeking to clarify what, if any, commitments he made to Putin, and if he puts America’s interests first.
The letter asks 13 questions of Trump, including whether he discussed handing over the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted last Friday for interference in the 2016 election, if he asked Putin to withdraw from Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and what suggestions Putin made to him during their discussion.
“Mr. President, the answers to these questions are of critical importance to U.S. national security. Answering them in full, without hesitation, will demonstrate that you do still hold America’s interests first,” reads the letter, signed by Reed, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Democratic Whip; Mark Warner (D-Va.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking.
“American citizens and the whole world watched the leader of the free world align with an authoritarian leader who orchestrated an attack on our own democracy. President Putin and his government are wasting no time capitalizing on yesterday’s meeting and using it to advance their national interests. We cannot afford to be blindsided or outmaneuvered,” wrote the Senators before listing 13 questions to be answered by the President. “Your cursory description of what was discussed at a two-and-a-half-hour meeting does little to assuage these concerns. To adequately protect America’s interests, we need to know what commitments you may have made to President Putin.”
The Senators also called on the Trump Administration to allow the U.S. Ambassador to Russia and the Secretary of Defense to testify before Congress about the repercussions of the Helsinki summit. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday July 25.