USA: Top Democrats Say Trump Should Cancel Meeting With Putin

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said President Trump should cancel his meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.Credit

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WASHINGTON — Leading Democrats called Friday for President Trump to cancel his upcoming meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats’ emails and computer networks during the 2016 presidential race.

Top Republicans were mostly mute, though a handful — including Representative Ed Royce of California, the retiring chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has brain cancer; and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump — urged the president to use the indictments to get tough with Mr. Putin when they meet on Monday in Helsinki, Finland.

“President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world,” Mr. McCain said in a statement. “If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward.”

A grand jury indicted the officers on Friday, accusing them of conspiring to interfere with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by hacking the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The indictment is part of an open investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, who is examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice.

“These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said, adding that Mr. Trump should cancel the meeting “until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections.”

A number of Democrats lined up behind Mr. Schumer. Some on the House Foreign Affairs Committee also called for Mr. Trump to cancel the Monday session, as did Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, stopped short of calling on Mr. Trump to cancel, but he said the president should insist that other Americans be present and should demand that Mr. Putin extradite those indicted.

“I would not trust the president alone with Putin without some other Americans in the administration in there,” he said. “For the president to break with the normal practice and meet with the Russian president alone, I wouldn’t trust what he says there.”
– By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos I NY Times