Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said Wednesday that he is “worried how the President will unfold” during the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Trump said on Tuesday that out of several meetings he will attend abroad in the coming weeks, the summit with Putin “may be the easiest of them all.”
In an interview on “Wolf” with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Menendez, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, brought up his concerns about the upcoming summit and how he views the President’s attitude towards it.
“When he says that this will be the easiest meeting, when he talks about Russia as a someone who is a competitor, Russia is not a competitor,” Menendez said. “They’re an adversary, from my view they’re a foe.”
Menendez, who was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee when the US placed sanctions on Russia after their invasion of Ukraine, pointed Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election as evidence for his concerns.
“Anyone who tries to undermine our democracy, who in essence created a 21st century attack through their cyberattacks against our democracy is a foe,” he said. “And so when you go into a meeting and you think of someone as a competitor, that’s just about how we’re going to strike a deal.”
“I’m worried about what he’s going to do in Syria,” he said. “I’m worried about him being willing to give up on sanctions against Russia. I am really concerned about how the President will unfold and I hope he doesn’t get to meet alone with Putin because I think that will be enormously dangerous.”
Menendez added that his biggest concern was Putin’s KGB background.
“He has a whole dossier. A whole sense of what buttons to push with the President. The President (Trump) doesn’t believe in that type of preparation.”