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 TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate 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: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen 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 NunesRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe MORE (R-Calif.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act GOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, is trying to do,” Smith said.

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

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