Schumer rips Tillerson remarks as 'disgraceful'
© Keren Carrion

The Senate Democratic leader on Friday ripped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying it was "disgraceful" for him to say the issue of Russia's meddling in last year's election was unresolved.

“For Secretary Tillerson to say that this issue will remain unresolved is disgraceful," Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers Senate Dems race to save Menendez in deep-blue New Jersey MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "To give equal credence to the findings of the American Intelligence Community and the assertion by Mr. Putin is a grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia to further interfere in our elections in the future."

Schumer and other Democrats reacted with fury after Tillerson's comments following President Trump's meeting earlier on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tillerson said that Trump confronted Putin about the issue during their meeting, but that it was not clear whether the issue would be resolved.

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Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Is there a difference between good and bad online election targeting? Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel MORE (D-Virginia), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee investigating Russian election meddling, said Trump's past remarks risked undercutting any tough message he might have sent in the face-to-face encounter with Putin.

“Whatever the President actually told Putin, it would have had much more force if just the day before President Trump had not equivocated about who was behind the unprecedented attack targeting America last fall," he said.

"It would also have had more force if he had not again criticized the integrity of our intelligence agencies, among whom there is unwavering agreement about Russia’s active interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Warner said in a statement.

At a press conference in Poland on Thursday, Trump questioned the degree to which Russian interfered in the presidential election, saying that other countries might also have been involved. 

Trump and Putin met for more than two hours on Friday.

Tillerson, who was present for the meeting, told reporters Trump began the meeting by “raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

“The two leaders agreed that this is a substantial hindrance on the ability of us to move Russian-U.S. relationships forward and agreed to exchange further work 
regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as those of other countries,” Tillerson said. “So more work to be done in that regard.”

“It's not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations,” he said. “So the question is, what do we do now?”

Putin and Trump offered cordial words to each other while speaking to the press before the meeting.

“We’ve had some very good talks, we’re going to have a talk now, and obviously that will continue, but we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, the United States and for everybody concerned. It’s an honor to be with you,” Trump told Putin.

“I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally, Mr. President, and I hope as you have said our meeting will yield positive results,” the Russian leader replied.