Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska delegation talks tough on Putin, Trump's remarks
Sen. Ben Sasse on Monday described President Donald Trump's claim that the United States and Russia both are responsible for the current strained relationship between the two countries as "bizarre and flat-out wrong."
"When the president plays these moral equivalence games, he gives (Russian President Vladimir) Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs," the Nebraska Republican said in a statement issued following a joint Trump-Putin news conference in Helsinki.
Trump's remarks during the news conference lit up Twitter with criticism that included former CIA Director John Brennan's assessment that Trump's performance was "nothing short of treasonous."
Sasse said "America wants a good relationship with the Russian people, but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression."
Earlier, Sasse reacted to a Trump tweet that blamed the decline in U.S-Russian relations to "many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and, now, the rigged witch hunt" conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller that has documented Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sasse tweeted in response: "A better thing, Mr. President, would be to declare: 'Russia is the enemy of America and our allies, and we will expose and respond to their continued cyber-attacks against our nation.'"
Following the president's news conference, Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., tweeted: "Russia is not a friend to the U.S. They have interfered in our elections. They have murdered people. They have invaded other countries. And they have cheated on a nuclear treaty. Russia is not to be trusted."
Rep. Don Bacon said the president's statements in Helsinki "undermine the power of the actions we've taken" to rein in Russia.
"The actual actions of our government and the president regarding Russia have been right on target: arming Ukraine, enforcing real red lines in Syria, closing Russian consulates used for spying and imposing tough sanctions against more than 100 Russian entities and individuals," Bacon said.
"We must stand with our intelligence and law enforcement agencies and our president must communicate with clarity to Putin his actions will be countered with firm U.S. resolve," the state's 2nd District congressman said.
Rep. Adrian Smith, Nebraska's 3rd District congressman, said he applauds Trump's willingness to establish dialogue, "but I would prefer a more direct approach to Russia given Putin's annexation of Crimea, support for Ukrainian separatists, interference in Syria and meddling in our elections."
Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said "dialogue does not imply consent."
"The complexities surrounding nuclear arms control, cybersecurity and international terrorism are too serious to be sidelined even after the clear case of Russia election meddling," he said.
"Engaging with adversaries is the necessary, hard business of responsible diplomacy."
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