McConnell: Russians are not our friends
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday said that Russia is not a friend of the U.S. and that he supports the intelligence community’s finding that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.
“I have said a number of times, I’ll say it again: The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community,” McConnell told reporters.
McConnell’s comments come hours after President Trump sparked immediate backlash following a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he refused to condemn Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.
“He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump told reporters, echoing Putin’s denials. “I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
He also said the United States was partly to blame for the current low point in U.S.-Moscow relations.
McConnell, who routinely does not speak to reporters in hallways around the Capitol, did not respond to questions about if he would repeat his comments to the president, if he was disappointed in Trump’s comments or if he thought, as some have suggested, that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats should resign.
Several GOP senators have publicly pushed back against Trump’s rhetoric.
“President Putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at the 2016 U.S. elections with the goal of undermining faith in our democratic process. Russia has conducted a coordinated cyberattack on state election systems, and hacked critical infrastructure. They have used social media to sow chaos,” Burr said in a statement.
He added that any statement that Putin makes that contradicts “these facts is a lie and should be recognized as one by the President.”
The Senate’s No. 2 Republican also said he believed U.S. intelligence officials.
“I don’t believe Mr. Putin and I believe our intelligence officials who produced the intelligence community assessment and I believe the indictment that Robert Mueller has now presented is well taken,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
“I think members of Congress believe as I do that Russia did attempt to meddle in the election. That they were unsuccessful in changing the outcome. … I think [the president] is conflating two different things: The meddling and the collusion allegations, for which there does not appear to be any evidence.”
Cornyn added that he thought the 12 Russians indicted last week by special counsel Robert Mueller should be extradited to the U.S., but acknowledged that would be “wishful thinking.”
Updated at 4:18 p.m.
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