Dem senator: Even Trump's appointees say Russia is still targeting US

Dem senator: Even Trump's appointees say Russia is still targeting US
© Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange MORE (D-N.J.) ripped President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE on Wednesday for saying Russia is no longer targeting the United States, noting that the remarks contradict recent statements by U.S. intelligence officials appointed by Trump.

“Every one of our intelligence agencies, those who are led by appointees of President Trump, have said not only has Russia engaged actively in trying to undermine the elections of 2016 against Secretary Clinton and for now-President Trump, and that are they continuing to do so,” Menendez said on MSNBC.

He cited recent comments by Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset 'deepfake' threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children's privacy Experts are studying mannerisms of 2020 candidates to help offset threat of 'deepfake' videos Bolton held unexpected meeting on Iran with top intel, military advisers at CIA: report MORE, who said last week that “the warning lights are blinking red again” for possible Russian cyberattacks against the U.S.

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“It is appalling that the president cannot seem to stand up to Vladimir Putin,” Menendez added, referring to the Russian president. “And that really means that there’s gotta be something more that we don’t see because it would even be in his political interest to stand up to him, not only the national interest and security of the United States. Yet he fails to do so.”

The president replied “no” when asked Wednesday if Russia still poses a threat to the U.S., contradicting Coats’s statement this week that Moscow's efforts are “ongoing” and “pervasive.”

Trump also told reporters that "there has never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been."

Trump has faced intense scrutiny this week after appearing to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russia's election interference at a joint press conference Monday in Helsinki. He then attempted to walk back the comments, saying he misspoke.

“I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said Tuesday.

"Could be other people also," he added. "A lot of people out there."