Posts tagged with "President Vladimir Putin"

Senate spurns Russia despite Trump’s G7 overtures

August 28, 2019

Despite Donald Trump’s deep devotion to the Kremlin, U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aren’t feeling the love, Politico reports.

Tensions between Russia and the Senate are rising, the news outlet notes—with Russia barring senators in both parties from visiting and Democrats urging Trump to keep President Vladimir Putin out of the G-7.

Senators Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Russia denied their visas as part of a congressional delegation.

Those revelations were quickly followed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats arguing to Trump that “under no circumstances” should Putin be allowed to take part in the next G7 meeting of global powers. Russia was expelled in 2014 after illegally annexing Crimea.

Murphy warned in a statement Tuesday morning that denying visas to members of Congress could further stymie dialogue between the United States and Russia, Politico said. He emphasized that it’s in the world’s best interest to prevent conflict between the two countries.

“Unfortunately, the Russian government is further isolating their country by blocking our visit and several others in recent months,” Murphy said. “ With the collapse of recent arms control agreements and significant domestic opposition to Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule, this is potentially a perilous moment for our two nations’ fragile relationship, and it’s a shame that Russia isn’t interested in dialogue.”

Johnson also said Monday evening that he too was denied entry to the country; the Wisconsin senator was part of a Republican delegation that visited last summer. Indeed, on August 26, Johnson criticized Putin for his recent actions in the region—including failing to hold free and fair elections, supporting Syria and annexing Crimea.

In a formal statement on his own website, Johnson said,” “Eventually, a new generation of leaders will emerge in Russia. Working with Ambassador [John] Huntsman, I had hoped direct dialogue with Russian parliamentarians could help set the stage for better future relations between our two nations. Unfortunately, Russian officials continue to play diplomatic games with this sincere effort and have denied me entrance to Russia. Regardless of this petty affront, I will continue to advocate a strong and resolute response to Russian aggression — and frank dialogue when possible.”

The Wisconsin Republican, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, has led and co-sponsored legislation to get tough on Russia for its actions in Ukraine, but voted against keeping some sanctions on Russia earlier this year, Politico reported.

The denial of visas to the senators highlights an ongoing conflict between members of the Senate and the White House when it comes the United States’ relationship with Russia.

Trump said on Monday that his “inclination is to say yes, [Russia] should be in” the G-7, again rattling U.S. beliefs that the country should remain on the sidelines of the international groups. Trump said there were discussions in France about the matter and said that he found agreement that “having them inside the room is better than having them outside the room.”

In the letter to the president, Schumer and other Democratic leaders argued that [theory] was misguided, because “Russia does not currently possess the democratic institutions nor the economic capacity to rejoin the group.”

The letter was also signed by Senators. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey.), who lead Democrats on key national security committees.

Research contact: @politico

Trump allowed no transcripts of Putin meetings

January 15, 2019

Talk about wiggle room. It would be hard to judge U.S. President Donald Trump on his initial meeting with  Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2017, because he did not allow any English-speaking note-takers in the room and no formal transcript remains of the discussion, The Wall Street Journal reported on January 13.

What’s more, the Journal said, senior administration officials were never briefed on the tête-a-tête, according to informed sources.

Indeed, when Trump and Putin first met in Germany, it was the Russians who asked to have a note-taker present, according to sources. Telling aides that he wanted to reduce the chance for leaks, the president, in an unconventional move, allowed only then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to be present at the session; and instead had him take notes with the intention of relaying the details to relevant officials afterward, they said.

The president went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep his discussions with Putin from leaking, according to one person familiar with the planning, including preventing any details of the meeting from circulating widely within the government.

“It was very unusual,” the source said.

Unlike most prior administrations, the. Trump White House doesn’t keep records of every meeting between the president and a foreign leader, a former national security official told the Journal—adding that Trump made that call in an effort to build relationships with foreign counterparts. “He does not use traditional diplomatic techniques,” the official said.

“There aren’t records of his meetings like you’d expect,” said one foreign official, adding that the administration also cut back on phone call transcripts since his conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked out early in his presidency.

However, Trump said claims that he took extraordinary measures to keep his discussions with Putin secret were ridiculous.“I had a conversation like every president does,” the president said in an interview Saturday on Fox News. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries. I’m not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn’t care less.”

In response, House Democrats said they would explore whether President Trump sought to limit documentation of the meetings, in what could be one of their first actions to probe the president since they took control of the House this month.

“Every time Trump meets with Putin, the country is told nothing,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-New York) said in a statement. “We will be holding hearings on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin.”

The flurry of media reports on the lack of note-taking came on the heels of a report by The New York Times that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into. Trump after he fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written,” Trump said of The New York Times report in the Fox News interview.

Members of the Trump administration and Republicans dismissed the report. “The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Research contact: @vmsalama