Illinois lawmakers pile on Trump/Putin summit, use the 'T' word
With comments like "borders on treason" and calls for congressional hearings, suburban Democrats and Republicans in Congress condemned President Donald Trump's words after a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday.
Wheaton Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam broke ranks and called the Trump-Putin news conference "an affront to American democracy and the intelligence community and a victory for Russian propaganda. The president has a duty to hold Vladimir Putin to account ... Russia's interference with our democratic process is appalling and undeniable."
The one-on-one meeting closely followed Friday's indictment of 12 Russian military officers who federal prosecutors said hacked into Democratic emails to tilt the 2016 election for Republicans.
Trump dismissed U.S. intelligence officials assertions of Russian snooping, saying, "President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."
Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano declared, "Russia has never been and is not a friend, and I urge President Trump to stand up to the Russians and take a hard line stance against those who only seek to harm the United States and our democracy."
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky came close to declaring Trump was collaborating with Russia.
Trump's "praising one of the most adversarial foreign leaders in the world ... goes beyond incompetence and it borders on treason," Schakowsky, of Evanston, said.
Duckworth, a U.S. Army veteran from Hoffman Estates, suggested "there is very real possibility that Vladimir Putin has compromised our commander in chief and turned him, perhaps without his knowledge, into a Russian asset."
Democrat U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg called for hearings and oversight from Congress to "ensure that the November elections proceed without foreign interference."
The "failure to stand up to the Kremlin has given it carte blanche to interfere in our upcoming elections, and that should frighten us all."
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat, said Trump "today chose to side with a foreign dictator over our own intelligence and law enforcement agencies." He called that "particularly outrageous" following Friday's accusation of Russian election meddling, "including reportedly targeting our State Board of Elections in Illinois."
Trump acknowledged at the news conference that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and other top officials had come to him and said "they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said, 'It's not Russia.' I will say this -- I don't see any reason why it would be."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin also joined the critics stating that Trump -- "the self-proclaimed 'great deal maker' -- growls at our allies and licks the hand of a Russian tyrant."
Duckworth criticized what she called Trump making a false moral equivalence between America and Russia.
Russia under Putin invaded Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, and "poisons innocent civilians around the globe," Duckworth said referring to attacks on a former Russian spy and his daughter in England. "There can be no moral equivalence drawn between the United States of America and Putin's Russia."
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, said on Twitter that it's "a sad day for the United States and our democracy." Trump should understand "the interests of the American people and our country should be his only priority."
Meanwhile U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, a Willow Springs Democrat, called the event "stunning and disturbing. The president must stop putting personal defense and defense of the legitimacy of his election victory ahead of American security and safety. America's intelligence agencies are essential to our national security and should not be undermined, especially by a president."