McCain to Trump: Cancel meeting if you won’t hold Putin accountable
GOP Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) on Friday said that if President Trump isn’t prepared to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin “accountable” for aggression toward the U.S. then he should cancel their meeting next week.
“President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world. If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward,” McCain said in a statement.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced on Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The indictment comes three days before a planned one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin in Helsinki.
Rosenstein told reporters that Trump had been briefed on the issue earlier this week and Trump on Friday, before Rosenstein’s announcement, said he would raise the issue of election interference with Putin during their meeting.
The indictments have sparked calls from top Democrats for Trump to cancel the meeting. McCain is the first GOP senator to specifically float that Trump cancel it in the wake of the indictment, though GOP Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) separately said the indictment reiterated that Moscow is not America’s “buddy.”
McCain added on Friday that the indictments were the latest in a “body of evidence confirming an extensive plot” by Putin’s government to influence the election and “sow chaos and dissension” within America.
“Despite repeated warnings from our nation’s top intelligence and military leaders, the Kremlin’s efforts to weaken our institutions have continued unabated with insufficient action taken by the administration or Congress to strengthen our cyber defenses, safeguard our election systems, and deter further destabilizing activities,” he said.