Members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation raise objections after Trump’s remarks
Written by: Frank Lockwood
Published by: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
WASHINGTON — A congressman from Arkansas who serves on the House Intelligence Committee didn’t like what he heard from President Donald Trump during Monday’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Among other things, the American head of state expressed doubts about claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
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U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from Jonesboro, says the evidence is hard to ignore.
“I think the findings in the House Intelligence Committee have been clear and forthright and they demonstrate, unequivocally, that the Russians employed active measures in an effort to influence our election here,” Crawford said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they were successful in altering the outcome; it just means we know they were engaged.”
Choosing between Putin’s version of events and U.S. intelligence services, “I think you have to respect the findings of the intelligence community,” Crawford said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Crawford also criticized Trump for failing to publicly acknowledge the Russian leader’s past actions.
Arkansas’ U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman are shown in these file photos.
“[With] all due respect, I think this was an opportunity to have taken a very strong position against Putin for a whole laundry list of reasons. You know he’s a former KGB operative, he’s engaged in egregious human-rights violations, he’s had people murdered, he’s used nerve gas to attack his enemies, he’s unlawfully annexed Crimea, he has injected Russia into Syria in league with Iran. There’s a variety of things that he has done that he should be called out for,” Crawford said. “I think this would’ve been an opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, that opportunity’s past and I don’t know that it will come back again any time soon. But unfortunately, that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”
After Trump’s news conference with Putin, other members of the all-Republican Arkansas congressional delegation also raised objections.
“I’m disappointed the President downplayed the very real threat Russia poses to our country and our values. Make no mistake, Russia is dangerous,” U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers tweeted. “I thank the brave individuals in our intelligence community who work daily to keep America safe.”
“Our nation’s intelligence community, as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee, is confident that Russia intervened in the 2016 elections,” U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers tweeted. “I agree w/ their assessment & believe our relationship w/ Russia must consistently be viewed through this lens. Russia is not our friend.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle released a written statement that criticized Putin without panning the president.
“Vladimir Putin is a committed adversary of the United States. In the last few years alone, Russia meddled in our presidential campaign, violated arms-control treaties with the United States, invaded Ukraine, assassinated political opponents in the United Kingdom, made common cause with Iran in propping up Bashar al-Assad’s outlaw regime in Syria, and cheated not only in the Olympics, but even in the Paralympics. These are not the actions of a friend, an ally, or merely a nation with aligned interests,” he said.
U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock also portrayed Russia as hostile.
“For decades Russia has engaged in propaganda and political shenanigans in Western democracies, and based on publicly available intelligence and information, their efforts in the U.S. elections in 2016 were no different,” he said in a written statement. “President Trump missed an opportunity today in his meeting and press conference with Russian President Putin to make clear that the United States does not believe Russian denials about meddling in our 2016 elections and that America will not stand for interference of this kind.”
The House has spoken out against Russian aggression and Trump should do likewise, Hill said.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs said the lawmaker had been traveling and that a statement was not yet available.