House Intel Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff didn’t hold back on his skepticism as he destroyed all of the major points in the White House’s version of Trump’s meeting with Putin.
In a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, Schiff said:
According to Secretary of State Tillerson, the President repeatedly pressed Putin on Russia’s interference in the election. The American people can be forgiven for a healthy skepticism about just how hard Mr. Trump could have pressed the Russian autocrat, given that the President publicly cast doubt on Russian responsibility and the probity of our intelligence agencies only the day before. Can we really expect the President to be more forthcoming with the Russian President if he is not willing to fully level with our own people on the same subject?
Moreover, the establishment of a working group as reported by Foreign Minister Lavrov to study how to curb cyber interference in elections in which the Russians would play any role, would be akin to inviting the North Koreans to participate in a commission on nonproliferation — it tacitly adopts the fiction that the Russians are a constructive partner on the subject instead of the worst actor on the world stage.
With respect to the ceasefire in southwest Syria, if such an agreement can truly bring about a pause in the violence and lead to a transition away from Bashar al Assad, this could be an important start. The Russians have very different interests than we do in Syria, however, and we would be wise to treat any Russian commitments with a jaundiced eye. Other ceasefires have been poorly enforced and Russia will need to live up to any commitments that it has made.
Finally, the Secretary’s readout included no mention on pushing back against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the need to maintain sanctions until they withdraw and end their destabilization. If this topic was ignored by the President, that would send a message of tacit acceptance to the Kremlin. It also underscores the need for Congress to maintain all sanctions on Russia over Ukraine and its hacking of our elections. Congress should pass such legislation without further delay.
The idea that Russia would work with the US on curbing cyber interference in elections is like asking the person who robbed your house how to install an alarm system. The Tillerson description of the meeting was a joke. The Secretary of State wants the American people to believe that the same president who refused to say that Russia hacked the election when asked by the press yesterday, now is Mr. Tough Guy.
This White House lies to the American people on a daily basis, and since they didn’t allow notes to be taken at the meeting, there is no reason to believe that they are telling the truth about the Putin meeting.
Adam Schiff is a former prosecutor who can spot BS a mile away. He isn’t buying the Trump White House’s description of the meeting and neither should you.