A group of top Democratic Party lawmakers in the US Senate have warned President Donald Trump against a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ahead of a planned summit between the two Finland.
Eight Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Minority Whip Dick Durbin and the top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Armed Services, Appropriations and Banking committees sent a letter to Trump on Saturday making the demand.
“If you insist on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, we write to urge that you include senior members of your team,” the letter said.
They argued that “Putin is a trained KGB intelligence veteran who will come to this meeting well-prepared.”
“There must be other Americans in the room," they wrote, urging Trump to "rely on the expertise and the experts of the State Department, Defense Department, CIA and other US government agencies" and "not wing it on your own."
Trump, who is in Scotland as part of a four-day tour of Britain, will be travelling to Helsinki on Monday to meet Putin with only a translators present. He flew to the UK from Brussels, where he attended the annual NATO summit.
He took to Twitter early Saturday, writing: Tomorrow I go to Helsinki for a Monday meeting with Vladimir Putin.”
Many in the United States are calling for the meeting to be cancelled after the US Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials on Friday in connection with the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump, however, resisted the demands and instead blamed the administration of former President Barack Obama for not “doing something about” election interference.
“The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration,” he tweeted on Saturday. “Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?”
On Friday, Republican Senator John McCain called on Trump to cancel his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin if he is “not prepared to hold Putin accountable.”
Trump said Tuesday that his meeting with Putin “may be the easiest” out of all his other meetings with NATO leaders this week. And on Friday, he voiced skepticism that the meeting with Putin would result in a confession about election meddling.
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