Sen. Ben Cardin: President Trump "Was Forced" By UK To Expel Russian Diplomats

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Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke to CNN's Alyson Camerota Tuesday morning about the latest diplomatic news regarding Russia, China, and North Korea.

"I think the president was forced to move on this because of U.K. -- Prime Minister May being so strong about what Russia did in Great Britain," Cardin said. "So this is a sign of unity within the Transatlantic Partnership, which is good."

He added: "It was absolutely the right thing to do. The United States is critically important to show that we stand with Europe in our defense against Russia so it was the right move."





CAMEROTA: Russia is blaming the U.S. for pressuring allies to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats around the world.

President Trump ordered the largest-ever expulsion of Russian diplomats from the U.S. -- 60 of them -- in response to Russia's nerve agent attack in the U.K. on a former Russian spy.

Joining us now to talk about this and more is Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland. Good morning, Senator.

CARDIN: Alisyn, it's good to be with you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: It's good to have you.

What's your response -- your reaction to what President Trump has done in expelling these diplomats?

CARDIN: Well, it was the right thing to do. It's in response to Russia's attack in the U.K. The U.S. has shown unity with our NATO allies to show that we will stand up against this type of attack by Mr. Putin.

What is disappointing is the president has yet to acknowledge the attack by Mr. Putin in the United States. Congress gave him authority to impose sanctions. He hasn’t used that authority fully and he hasn’t asked our European allies to join us in regards to the attack against America.

CAMEROTA: So how do you explain this -- I mean, since people say that this is the most aggressive act against Russian diplomats ever? He expelled 60, more than President Obama ever did.

So how do you explain that disconnect between not acknowledging what Russia -- what the Intelligence Community says Russia did during the election and this act?

CARDIN: I think the president was forced to move on this because of U.K. -- Prime Minister May being so strong about what Russia did in Great Britain. We also saw that there are many other countries in Europe that are going to join us in expelling Russian diplomats. So this is a sign of unity within the Transatlantic Partnership, which is good.

It was absolutely the right thing to do. The United States is critically important to show that we stand with Europe in our defense against Russia so it was the right move. It is a clear signal to Mr. Putin that they'll be consequences of his activities.

CAMEROTA: OK, next topic.

What do you know about this mystery train that has arrived in Beijing? Is Kim Jong-un of North Korea visiting China?

CARDIN: We don’t know for sure but it seems likely that he is in China today.

Clearly, Kim Jong-un is trying to shore up his relationship with China. It has been rough at times -- we know that. There's some problems between North Korea and China.

Clearly, Kim Jong-un recognizing that he's going to be negotiating with the United States and wants to get more friends in that region, so it would make sense for him to be in China.

CAMEROTA: And what do you think it means for President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong-un that is scheduled for May?

CARDIN: Well, it could be good news Alisyn, quite frankly, for us to have a diplomatic off-ramp to this crisis. We need China's participation so it's not just the United States and North Korea. We need China engaged in these discussions.

I would hope that the United States is also talking to China to recognize that this is an opportunity for a diplomatic end to the North Korean crisis.

There is no good military option and I think there's great concern that we make sure that diplomacy can work. It requires preparation so perhaps North Korea is preparing those negotiations by talking to China. We should also be engaged in conversations with China.

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