Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republican colleagues to join in “demanding testimony” from President Donald Trump’s national security team present during the Helsinki summit earlier this week, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “immediately.”
“And very importantly, probably most importantly, our Republican colleagues need to join us in demanding testimony from the President’s national security team that was in Helsinki – and we need to do that immediately,” the New York Democrat said from the Senate floor Tuesday.
Schumer said the American people need more information on anything Trump promised Russian President Vladimir Putin, following a press conference Monday where Trump appeared to downplay the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered with the last US presidential election and that Trump said Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial of responsibility.
“We need hearings as soon as possible to assess what President Trump might have committed to President Putin in secret,” Schumer said. “President Trump’s public statements were alarming enough.”
“Does anyone believe he was tougher on Putin in secret?” Schumer asked. “You can’t assume anything but that as weak as he was in public before President Putin, he was even worse in private. Why else did he not want anyone in the room?”
Trump tweeted his support for the intelligence community later Monday after his comments created a backlash from both Democrats and Republicans.
“As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.’ However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018” Trump tweeted.
Schumer noted Tuesday that the two world leaders met for almost two hours and the absence of notes or readouts.
“Where are the notes from the meeting? What did the President agree to? Was Secretary Pompeo briefed afterwards on what happened? Were any other members of the President’s team? The American people need to know what has happened. The American people deserve to know what has happened. It’s our security at risk,” he said.
Schumer called on his Republican counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership team to “immediately request a hearing with Secretary of State Pompeo and the rest of the President’s national security team from Helsinki so we can find out what the heck happened there.”
On Monday, McConnell did not directly criticize Trump but told reporters on Capitol Hill that he back the US intelligence community.
“I’ve said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community,” the Kentucky Republican said.
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.