US will not let Americans be questioned by Moscow, but demands extradition of 12 Russians
"It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt, " Sarah Sanders, White House spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday.
In case the White House may change its mind, the Senate unanimously approved the resolution, proposed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) expressing the sense that the “United States should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government or Vladimir Putin."
BREAKING: Senate unanimously PASSES (98-0) a resolution expressing opposition to allowing Russia to interview US diplomats and agents, a proposal offered by Putin on Monday and rejected just this afternoon by the White House.— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) July 19, 2018
Here's the text of the resolution: pic.twitter.com/oB6aTxnYts
Following the summit with Trump in Finland’s capital in Helsinki earlier this week, the Russian President said Moscow may consider allowing the US Justice Department investigators to question the Russian citizens, who were charged with meddling in the US election in 2016.
However, Putin specified that such interaction may only take place if the Washington greenlights Moscow to interrogate American citizens, who are suspected of committing crimes in Russia. The list of those wanted by the Russian law enforces includes US ambassador to the country, Michael McFaul, and financier, Bill Browder, according to Russia’s Prosecutor Generals’ Office.
The treaty between Moscow and Washington, signed in the 1990-ies and allowing the interrogation of the suspects from the other country, was brought up by Putin during the media conference in Helsinki.
Earlier on Thursday, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and four other Democratic congressmen sent an open letter to Trump, urging the president to publically reject the Russian offer. “You must make clear that you will not allow American citizens or anyone on American soil to endure interrogation or harassment at the hands of Putin’s thugs,” they wrote.
The idea of Trump allowing the Americans to be interrogated by Russian investigators has been slammed by Trump’s opponents in both Democratic and Republican camps in the past few days. He was warned that even thinking about fulfilling Putin’s “outrageous” offer would amount to “an abuse of power” and threatened him with impeachment.
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