GOP lawmaker presses Obama on reports of ‘secret’ missile deal

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) is not backing down from his allegations that President Obama has a “secret deal” with Russia on missile defense.

Turner sent another letter to President Obama on Wednesday that urged the White House to explain what missile defense deals it made with Russia, citing Russian reports that a deal was reached and then dropped without being made public.

Turner and many other Republicans have seized on Obma’s “hot mic” comment to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in March, when he said he would have more “flexibility” after the November election to negotiate on missile defense.

The Republican lawmaker repeatedly brought up his comments during debate on the Defense authorization bill, when his talk about a secret deal led the Armed Services’ ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) to suggest that Turner “went to an excellent propaganda school.”

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Democrats say the Republicans are manufacturing an alleged deal for political gain in the presidential campaign, and that Obama’s comments were merely reflecting the political reality of an election year.

Turner first wrote Obama the day that he made his comments to Medvedev, and he received a response from the White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors, who wrote: “It is no secret that this effort will be more complicated during election years in both the United States and Russia.”

In another letter to Obama on Wednesday that was obtained by The Hill, Turner said Nabors’ comments infer that “the American people may not like the deal your administration is planning to negotiate.”

“If that is the case, why make it at all,” Turner wrote.

Turner, who is chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee, referred to a report from the Russian newspaper Kommersant in 2011, which said it had obtained the copy of a draft U.S.-Russian agreement on missile defense that never materialized.

“Mr. President, the unwillingness of your administration to provide copies of these draft agreements to the Congress does nothing to resolve concerns about just what your administration is prepared to offer Russia regarding U.S. missile defense after your ‘last election.’ ”

Turner added several provisions to the House’s Defense authorization that increased U.S. missile defense — including a proposed East Coast missile shield site — and the bill put restrictions on U.S. implementation of the New START Treaty with Russia.

Those proposals are likely to face skepticism in the Senate, where the authorization bill is being marked up this week.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking member of the committee, told reporters Tuesday he was “skeptical” about the East Coast missile interceptor, and the committee’s chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has said he is opposed to it.