Top Democrats called Friday for President Donald Trump to cancel his planned summit next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin following the announcement by the Justice Department that 12 Russian intelligence officers had been indicted over the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 presidential race.
“President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement shortly after the announcement. “Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy.”
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed. “In light of this stunning indictment by the Justice Department that these Russian conspirators attacked our democracy and were communicating with Americans to interfere in our election, President Trump should immediately cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin,” he said in a statement.
And Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee — which has been conducting its own probe of Russian meddling — told reporters at the Capitol Friday that “there should be no one-on-one meeting” between Trump and Putin.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did not call for the meeting to be canceled, but said the president needed to use it to “demand and secure a real, concrete and comprehensive agreement that the Russians will cease their ongoing attacks on our democracy,” she said. “Failure to stand up to Putin would constitute a profound betrayal of the Constitution and our democracy.”
Friday’s news came just days ahead of the planned summit, as Trump met Friday with Queen Elizabeth II in England.
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., tweeted that the indictment was “Yet another reason the President should not be meeting one on one with Putin.”
Congressional Democrats applauded the announcement, saying the ongoing indictments continue to disprove the narrative promoted by President Trump that the Russia probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a “witch hunt.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who resigned as DNC chairwoman in July 2016 after emails surfaced showing officials favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders, noted Friday that the committee was the first major target of the Russian attack on the U.S. She served as chairwoman during the cyberattack.
“I strongly believe that every individual who helped carry it out — foreign or domestic — should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “I’m pleased that the Justice Department is following the facts wherever they may lead, despite Donald Trump’s dangerous distortions and his refusal to acknowledge the conclusions reached by the American Intelligence Community.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Clinton’s vice-presidential nominee, tweeted Friday that the indictments “prove, yet again, that hostile Russian actors targeted Americans with sophisticated crimes in 2016. This investigation must continue — unobstructed — to keep protecting Americans, safeguarding future elections, and holding criminals responsible for their actions.”
The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Friday “this is not a joke” and “this is no witch hunt.”
“It is now obvious that any Republican still standing in the way of the special counsel’s investigation not only abets the obstruction of justice, but gives comfort to a foreign adversary,” he said.
Few Republicans immediately weighed in on the indictment, though Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., tweeted, “Great progress today by DOJ/FBI & our Intel community to bring transparency & accountability re DNC/DCCC hacking. Regardless of being GOP or Dem, conservative or liberal, Americans must stand united against meddling by foreign adversaries. Keep investigation w/in scope!”
Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that the major voting machine companies are refusing to answer “the most basic questions about whether they are adequately protecting our elections.” He said that Congress should now pass his proposed legislation that would require paper ballots and audits.
“Anything less is an invitation to Russian to do this again,” Wyden tweeted.