Top Dem on Russia: Trump doesn't like people 'questioning his greatness'

Top Dem on Russia: Trump doesn't like people 'questioning his greatness'

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee says that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court Juan Williams: Anti-abortion extremism is on the rise Trump feels squeeze in tax return fight MORE feels threatened by the federal probe into his campaign's ties to Russia, given what he says is mounting evidence of collusion.

“The president feels threatened,” Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter Iran Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info MORE (D-Wash.) said in an interview. “It’s undermining the legitimacy of President Trump’s election if you say the Russians interfered."

"This president is a little sensitive, shall we say, when it comes to people questioning his greatness," Smith added in an interview for The Hill's Power Politics podcast airing Saturday.

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The result, he said, is that Trump “has gone softer on Russia” and Moscow is not held to account.

Smith claimed that instead of concentrating on Russia’s attraction to “kleptocracy and autocratic dictatorships,” Trump and some allies in Congress have devised harmful narratives at home.

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Smith said he believes there is ample evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, apparently to boost Trump.

“There’s also a lot of evidence of collusion, despite what the president and everyone else says,” Smith said.

He noted he was speaking about reported accounts of evidence, not the pending conclusions from an ongoing special counsel investigation.

Smith, a member of the Armed Services Committee since arriving in Congress in 1997, said Moscow actively seeks to undermine democracy and capitalism.

“And we have a president who won’t acknowledge it," he said.

Speaking two days before Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a controversial, four-page memo critical of FBI surveillance tied to Russia’s actions in 2016, Smith said Trump’s reaction has seemed transparent.

“It’s possible he’s just that stupid,” he added. “I don’t think it’s the case.”

Smith rebuked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHouse Intelligence enjoys breakthrough with Justice Department House Intel postpones enforcement action after DOJ offer to share some Mueller files Roger Stone considers suing to discover if he was spied on by FBI MORE (R-Calif.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) for backing Trump, accusing some GOP colleagues of “trying to trash and undermine our entire FBI and Justice Department."

"They would rather leave the reputation of our country’s foremost criminal investigatory agency in the garbage can than admit what Russia did," he said.

The congressman said the president and his supporters do not take seriously Moscow’s threats to the “core values of our country” — threats he said are ongoing.

“They won’t criticize Russia, but they will destroy one of our most important institutions' reputation, all to try to throw up a smokescreen about what the special investigator, Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE, is trying to do,” Smith said.

Power Politics, hosted by The Hill’s Alexis Simendinger, airs Saturday mornings.

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