Lawmakers call on Trump to cancel summit with Putin
WASHINGTON — Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic lawmakers on Friday called on President Trump to cancel his summit with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, in the wake of the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers charged with election hacking.
‘‘Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy,’’ Schumer said less than an hour after Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein detailed the new charges.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin on Monday in Helsinki.
During a joint news conference Friday with Prime Minister Theresa May in Britain, Trump told reporters he would raise the issue of Russian interference in the election with Putin but that he doesn’t expect a confession.
Schumer called the latest indictments from the inquiry led by special counsel Robert Mueller ‘‘further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections.’’
Trump should cancel the meeting “until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections,’’ the New York Democrat said.
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the meeting should be canceled “in light of this stunning indictment by the Justice Department that these Russian conspirators attacked our democracy and were communicating with Americans to interfere in our election.’’
Trump has repeatedly called the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “witch hunt,” and some of his allies have said the inquiry should be brought to a quick conclusion.
The White House had no immediate comment on the demands for the president to cancel the meeting.
After the Justice Department announcement, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said, “today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result.”
Other Democrats joining the call to jettison the meeting included Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stopped short of calling for a cancellation. Instead, she said Trump should use the Putin meeting to secure a comprehensive pact that the Russians will stop their “ongoing attacks on our democracy.”
Most Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, made no statements immediately after the indictments were announced.
But House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, said the president should used the indictments to challenge Putin.
“For years, we’ve known about the Kremlin’s campaign to weaponize information and chip away at our institutions,” Royce said. “And yet for years, we have not done enough to counter it.”
Eighteen Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs panel urged Trump in a letter to cancel the meeting, saying that "due to your constant expressions of sympathy for Vladimir Putin" the lawmakers "do not have confidence that you can faithfully negotiate with the Russian leader."