Five top Democratic senators urged U.S. President Donald Trump to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin in his upcoming bilateral meeting over his election meddling and warn against further interference. The senior senators in their letter to Trump stated that it is a crucial issue and interfering in the US election is wrong, quoted the CNN. “We believe it is crucial for you — as the President of the United States — to raise this matter with President Putin and to ensure that he hears you loud and clear — interfering in our elections was wrong in 2016 and it will not be permitted to happen again,” the letter read.
“The upcoming elections cannot be a playground for President Putin,” further read the letter signed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois and the top Democrats on the intelligence, armed services, and foreign relations committees: Mark Warner of Virginia, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Ben Cardin of Maryland respectively.
The White House has not yet made any comment on the letter. Trump earlier said that Russia was be behind the 2016 election meddling, adding that he also feels “it could have been other people in other countries” and that “nobody really knows for sure.”
“I think it very well could be Russia but I think it could very well have been other countries. I think a lot of people interfere,” he said during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Trump and Putin first meeting is scheduled to take place alongside the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. As per the national security adviser H.R. McMaster there is no specific agenda for the meeting of the two leaders. Meanwhile, the senators insisted that Trump must use the session to hold Russia accountable.
“It remains critical that you set the agenda from the start and make absolutely clear that Russian interference in our democracy will in no way be tolerated,” the letter stated. The letter further stated that as per the Intelligence Community’s assessment Russia’s interference in the elections was only ‘the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order.
“But these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations. Put more simply, President Putin directed an attack on the most central tenet of our democracy — our election. Not raising this matter with President Putin would be a severe dereliction of the duty of the office to which you were elected,” the letter added.