Dem lawmaker rips Trump for ‘making friends’ with top Russian diplomat

Dem lawmaker rips Trump for ‘making friends’ with top Russian diplomat
© Getty Images

Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Army says it isn't investigating Vindman | White House outlines legal justification for Soleimani strike | Service member dies in Africa Trump administration outlines legal justification for Soleimani strike Pompeo to testify on Iran in February MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE for meeting with a top Russian official on Wednesday, calling the meeting another example of Trump getting "too cozy" with Russia.

“This visit seems to have been no more than a photo op and a wasted opportunity,” Engel said in a statement on Trump’s huddle with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“If the top issue in both meetings wasn’t Russia’s criminal meddling in American democracy, then the Administration is sending the message that hostile governments can interfere in American elections with impunity," Engel said.

He added that Trump’s warmth toward Lavrov is another sign that “this Administration’s ties to Russia are far too cozy.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump met with Lavrov at the White House earlier on Wednesday, during which he expressed a desire for improved ties with Russia.

“[Trump] emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia,” the White House said in a statement.

The meeting marks Trump's highest-level in-person meeting with a Russian government official since his inauguration.

The huddle came one day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing a probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential race, as well as any connections between members of Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Lavrov joked about Comey’s firing during a separate meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Wednesday.

“Was he fired?” he asked reporters in mock surprise. “You’re kidding. You’re kidding."