‘Close to dumbest idea’: Republican senators lash out at Trump-Putin cybersecurity team plan
“It’s not the dumbest idea I have ever heard but it’s pretty close,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told NBC’s Meet the Press program, labeling Donald Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of G20 summit as “disastrous.”
Trump has “a blind spot when he deals with Russia,” the senator said, adding that by “forgiving and forgetting” Moscow’s alleged cyberattacks means to “empower Putin.”
“Two hours and fifteen minutes of meetings; Tillerson and Trump are ready to forgive and forget when it comes to cyberattacks on the American election of 2016,” Graham said, “Nobody’s saying, ‘Mr. President, the Russians changed the outcome. You won fair and square. But they did try to attack our election system.’”
Long-standing Putin critic Senator John McCain of Arizona said that Trump’s teaming up with the Russian president might actually make sense.
“I am sure Putin could be of enormous assistance, since he's doing the hacking,” McCain said sarcastically, speaking on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ program.
The senator said that the Russian president “got away with literally trying to change the outcome” of the US election.
“…There was really sophisticated attempts to do so [meddling into US 2016 election]. So far they [Russians] have not paid a single price for that,” he said.
McCain’s and Graham’s words were echoed in tweets of 2016 presidential candidate, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who said that Putin “will never be a trusted ally or a reliable constructive partner.”
Senator Ben Sasse even suggested that right now the Russian leader is “plotting future cyberattacks on America.”
Putin and Trump held a long-awaited first meeting on the sidelines of G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday where the leaders discussed cybersecurity along with other issues.
On Sunday Trump tweeted that he and Putin had discussed forming an impenetrable cybersecurity unit to prevent election hacking.
The US president, however, later clarified that the fact that he discussed a joint cybersecurity unit with Putin “doesn't mean I think it can happen.”
Putin confirmed on Saturday that the accusations claiming Russia meddled in the US election had been addressed during his conversation with Trump. The Russian president reiterated that there is no reason to believe that Russia interfered in the US electoral process.
The Russian leader said he and Trump had shared their views on cybersecurity, saying both had agreed to “create a working group and work together on how to jointly monitor security in cyberspace.”