Democrats attacked Donald Trump after he discussed the “Russian hoax” in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff saying the president “betrays our national security.”
“Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted on Friday afternoon following the morning call. “As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Schiff quote-tweeted Trump and commented that “the 2020 campaign is already in full swing and Trump just told Putin, the man behind the most serious cyber attack on our democracy ever, that he believes it was all a hoax.”
The Democratic congressman from California said, “Once again, he betrays our national security and for what? Nothing more than his own vanity and delusion.”
After tweeting, Trump spoke to reporters in the Oval Office about his Putin call and described it in a way that caused more alarm among Democrats.
Regarding Russian election interference, Trump said Putin “sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse. But he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever.”
When a reporter asked Trump if he told Putin not to interfere in a U.S. election again, Trump shut her down.
“Excuse me, I’m talking, I’m answering this question,” Trump said. “You are very rude.” He later said, “We didn’t discuss that.”
Representative Kathleen Rice of New York took issue with Trump’s response on Twitter.
“Trump’s failure to confront Putin on election interference wasn’t out of cowardice or absentmindedness. It’s deliberate and strategic,” Rice tweeted. “Which makes it all the more dangerous. And it’s why Congress struggles to have productive conversations around this issue with admin officials.”
Trump characterized the call with Putin as “a very good conversation” in which they discussed “five or six things.” He said they spoke about Venezuela and North Korea at length “and pretty much that’s it.”
Trump then expressed an interest in working with Russia in another way.
“We also discussed trade. We intend to do a lot of trade with Russia,” Trump said. “We do some right now, but he’d like to do trade and we’d like to do trade, and getting along with Russia and china and all of them is a good thing.”
Trump’s call with Putin came two days after Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Attorney General William Barr on how his representation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report differed from their understanding of its conclusions.
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