WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the U.S. Senate voted 98-0 to reject an offer Vladimir Putin made to President Trump to hand over former U.S. diplomats and other American officials who have criticized the Kremlin for questioning. The non-binding resolution expresses the sense of Congress that no current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official, or member of the Armed Forces should be made available to Putin’s government for interrogation.
This resolution was offered in response to President Trump standing shoulder to shoulder with Putin while the Russian President offered the Special Counsel a chance to interview twelve Russian Military Intelligence Officers who’ve been indicted for conducting “large scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 presidential election” in exchange for politically-motivated Russian interrogations of U.S. citizens. President Trump initially endorsed Putin’s cynical ploy as “an incredible offer” and during yesterday’s White House press briefing President Trump’s spokesperson said he was still considering it.
Upon passage of the resolution today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee and an ex officio member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement:
“Today, the U.S. Senate did what President Trump should have done on the spot: unequivocally reject Putin’s outrageous offer to hand over loyal Americans to Putin as part of his campaign to silence critics.
“It shouldn’t take the threat of a unanimous message from the Senate for President Trump to understand that he should be defending our diplomats and national security officials, not selling them out.
“President Trump failed to stand up to Putin, and the idea that he would hand over American officials who correctly called out Putin’s corruption is astounding. This idea should have been immediately dismissed by President Trump, not presented to the American people as an “incredible offer” that he would consider. It is both telling and disgraceful that this was not immediately rejected outright. And this vote is a direct rebuke of President Trump’s mishandling of this situation.
“Putin attacked our democracy, and President Trump’s weak, submissive performance in Helsinki did real damage. Today, the Senate sent a strong message of support to our diplomats, intelligence officials, and people who’ve spoken out against corruption across the globe.
“It is alarming that President Trump continues to side with Putin against American interests. American’s are right to question why President Trump’s personal interests and actions seem to so often align with Mr. Putin’s.”