South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy on Sunday called on President Donald Trump to affirm wholeheartedly the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” Gowdy said. “It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016. So the President either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration. But the disconnect cannot continue. The evidence is overwhelming, and the President needs to say that and act like it.”
Gowdy, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” said Trump missed “a really good opportunity” at his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, last week to distinguish the US position from Russia. At the press conference, Trump appeared to side with Putin over the US intelligence community, which has concluded that Russia was behind efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
Trump said in Helsinki that he did not see any reason why Russia would have been responsible for the election interference, but later said he had misspoken and should have said “wouldn’t” instead of “would.”
Trump has offered varying statements on the US intelligence community conclusion, and when he said last week that he had misspoken, he also asserted, “It could be other people also.”
In the interview Sunday, Gowdy said he was glad for the follow-up from Trump, but stressed the importance of the initial comments.
“There was this equivocation during the press conference – that I’m glad he corrected it – but when you’re the leader of the free world, every syllable matters, and you really shouldn’t be having to correct it,” Gowdy said.
The White House has since announced another summit with Putin in Washington this fall, and on Sunday, Trump continued to defend the recent meeting, taking to Twitter to blame the media for criticisms of his remarks at the summit.
“I had a GREAT meeting with Putin and the Fake News used every bit of their energy to try and disparage it. So bad for our country!” Trump tweeted.