FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2018
Juan Pachon 202-224-4744
Menendez Grills Pompeo on Failures of Trump Administration to See the Russian Government as a Threat to the US
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today pressed Secretary of State Nominee Mike Pompeo whether President Trump ever directly asked him to interfere with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation, and the Trump Administration’s failures to impose Congressionally-mandated sanctions on Russia for the Kremlin’s attack on our elections. Sen. Menendez co-authored the Russia sanctions legislation, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
“President Trump has repeatedly said that ‘getting along with Russia is a good thing.’ Yesterday, he tweeted ‘our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been; there’s no reason for this.’ And he indicated he would like to help Russia with its economy. What behavior, if any, has the Kremlin shown that indicates it wants to ‘get along’ with the United States or our allies?” the senator asked CIA Director Pompeo.
Director Pompeo deflected and refused to answer the question, instead citing the few sanctions – but not the full implementation of the CAATSA law – the Administration has imposed to respond to Russian government interference in the 2016 elections and its malign activities around the world. Likewise, he refused to discuss, without providing a reason why, a closed-door meeting he had with President Trump and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, in which the President reportedly raised the ongoing Mueller probe and potential obstruction of justice, saying he could not recall the conversation.
“For me, these questions being answered truthfully and in a forthcoming way are critically important, because it goes to the very essence of how you approach one of the most critical issues that we have. And your unwillingness to speak to it is troubling to me,” the senator responded.
Following a March 22, 2017 intelligence briefing at the White House, the President reportedly asked everyone to leave the room except for Directors Pompeo and Coats, and then proceeded to complain about the Russia investigation and former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of it.