Top GOP rep: Trump should be 'straightforward with the American people' about Russian interference

Top GOP rep: Trump should be 'straightforward with the American people' about Russian interference
© Greg Nash

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceLawmakers propose banning shark fin trade Bottom Line Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-Calif.) on Sunday said President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE should be "straightforward with the American people" about Russian interference in U.S. elections. 

"The president should be straightforward with the American people about the threat to our election process, that Russia — Putin in particular — is engaged in," Royce said on CNN's "State of the Union," referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He insisted that Congress is presenting a united front against the Kremlin, despite Trump's rhetoric downplaying the threat of Russian meddling. 

He said he and other lawmakers on his committee are working to "form a consensus of opinion about Russia’s engagement here and a response to it."

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"For years, we have watched Russian interference in trying to undermine our values, using weaponized information against the west, not just here in the United States but across the entirety of Europe," he said. "And as a consequence of those efforts and us not doing enough — not just this administration but the past administration not doing enough — we are in a position now that we have got to show Putin that he’ll have to pay a steep price if he doesn’t stop this now." 

He suggested that Congress needs to be "more aggressive in using other tools we have," suggesting legislation that would go after Russia for using nerve agents in the U.K. 

The Foreign Affairs Committee in recent weeks passed measures to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity and support NATO. 

National security officials last week at a White House press briefing spoke out against the "pervasive" threats to U.S. elections posed by Russian interference.

"Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs," Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenImmigrant advocacy groups seek restraining order to block Trump asylum policy The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration 2,000 asylum seekers return home, decide to stay in Mexico: report MORE said. 

Trump, however, undercut his national security officials throughout the week by continuing to refer to Russian interference as the "Russia hoax."