WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after a grinning President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, and tried to make a joke out of Moscow’s interference in U.S. elections, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement:

“President Trump’s inability to take Russian threats seriously harms our national security and the integrity of our elections.

“Putin is an autocrat who continues to conduct hybrid warfare operations against our democracy.  President Trump’s attempt to jokingly make light of this threat sends a signal to the world that he will not hold Putin accountable.  Instead, President Trump told reporters earlier that he would not reveal his discussions with Putin, saying that it was ‘none of your business.’  

“This is not a joke.  This is about deterring the Kremlin from continuing to attack our democracy.  President Trump should be using every tool at his disposal to direct a whole of government and whole of society effort to counter these attacks, not emboldening Putin to escalate his aggression. And it is exactly the business of the American people to know that our elections are free from interference and that we can trust the President of the United States to deliver tough messages to deter foreign adversaries.

“Vladimir Putin audibly laughed with President Trump sitting at his side, even as Putin actively seeks to weaken the American public’s faith in the integrity of our democracy and harm the United States’ standing globally. 

“President Trump must stop undermining America’s ability to counter Russia interference and protect our elections.  This isn’t a laughing matter, it is serious business and the future of our democracy is at stake.”