Schumer to Trump administration: Who met with Putin’s spy chief?
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is demanding to know whether anyone in the Trump administration met with a top Russian spy who visited the United States, after the Russian embassy said he had taken part in discussions on combating terrorism.
“The Trump administration must immediately come clean and answer questions: which U.S. officials did he meet with?” Schumer told reporters, flanked by Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin (Md.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.).
The Russian embassy tweeted earlier Tuesday that Sergey Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, had been in the United States “for consultations with … counterparts on the struggle against terrorism.”
The tweet came one day after the administration announced it would postpone implementing sanctions against Russia, despite a law calling for them passed by the Senate in a 98-2 vote last year.
Schumer questioned if the decision and the visit are linked and accused Trump of ignoring the sanctions legislation.
“Most important is his visit, why the Trump administration decided to forego sanctions, which, as you know, the deadline was yesterday,” he said.
Schumer questioned if members of the White House or Trump’s National Security Council met with Naryshkin and if any other sanctioned Russian officials traveled with him.
“Surely he didn’t come alone, so which other sanctioned Russian intelligence agency figures has the Trump administration let into our country?” he said.
The Russian embassy cited Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, who told state-run media that Naryshkin visited to discuss the “joint struggle against terrorism.” The report did not specify when the visit took place.
Trump’s stance toward Russia has rankled Democrats and some Republicans, who blasted his decision not to implement last year’s sanctions legislation. Democrats have long questioned Trump’s willingness to take a hard line with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Schumer noted that he has reached out to the White House on the sanctions decision but “we’re not getting much of an answer.”
“We sanctioned the head of their foreign intelligence, and then the Trump administration invites him to waltz through our front door. This is an extreme dereliction of duty by President Trump,” Schumer said.
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