Corker: Trump made US look ‘like a pushover’
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Monday slammed President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it made the United States look “like a pushover.”
Corker, speaking to reporters outside his office on Capitol Hill, repeatedly expressed his disappointment and declared that Trump’s press conference with Putin “made us look as a nation more like a push over.”
“I did not think this was a good moment for our country,” he said.
Corker said he wants the U.S. to have good relations with Russia but said he was “disappointed” by Trump’s comments.
“Everyone who’s dealt with Putin understands fully that the best way to deal with him is through strength,” he said.
Corker said he was especially disappointed and “saddened” by what he called the “equivalency” with which Trump treated U.S. intelligence agencies — which have concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election — and Putin, who denied interfering.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump told reporters during the joint press conference.
Trump also declined to denounce Russia for its involvement in the 2016 election or to warn it against meddling in future elections.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also admonished Trump in a statement released moments before Corker spoke to reporters.
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Ryan said. “That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence.”
Ryan said “the president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
“There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals,” he added.
Several other Republicans criticized Trump earlier for blaming “U.S. foolishness” for bad relations with Russia and for refusing to denounce Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) slammed Trump’s comments as “bizarre and flat-out wrong.”
Sasse, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said “the United States is not to blame” for the heightening of tensions between the two countries.
“America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Trump’s comments “shameful.”
“I never thought I would see the day when our American president would stand on the stage with the Russian president and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), one of Trump’s strongest allies in the Senate GOP conference, offered a milder rebuke.
“From the president on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence and interference, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or other Russian operatives say,” he said in a statement.
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