AP: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for immediate hearings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials to learn more about President Donald Trump's private meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"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," Schumer declared Tuesday. "We need hearings, as soon as possible, to assess what President Trump might have committed to President Putin in secret. President Trump's public statements were alarming enough."
"The Senate needs to know what happened behind closed doors. Does anyone believe he was tougher on Putin in secret? You can't assume anything but as weak as he was in public with President Putin, he was even worse in private. Why else did he not want anyone in the room?" Schumer asked.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The reason, President Trump, that you're being so criticized when you accept Putin's word, is that Putin is a trained liar. He lies brazenly, shamelessly, repeatedly, about big things and small...
Yet, when President Putin gives President Trump a "strong and powerful denial" that he didn't meddle in our elections -- President Trump immediately accepts Putin's word over the considered judgment of America's dedicated intelligence professionals. It's almost as if President Trump is embracing Putin's knees. I'm ashamed of it. Every American should be...
President Trump's actions yesterday lead many more Americans to suspect that something was amiss -- that there may have been collusion. What else would explain President Trump's actions and protestations in a foreign country? ...
Second, 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. We need hearings, as soon as possible, to assess what President Trump might have committed to President Putin in secret. President Trump's public statements were alarming enough. The Senate needs to know what happened behind closed doors. Does anyone believe he was tougher on Putin in secret? You can't assume anything but as weak as he was in public with President Putin, he was even worse in private. Why else did he not want anyone in the room?
President Trump and President Putin met one-on-one behind closed doors for nearly two hours. Where are the notes from that meeting? What did President [Trump] agree to? Was Secretary of State 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's happened. It's our security at risk. So, I'm calling on Leader McConnell and his leadership team to immediately request a hearing with Secretary of State Pompeo and the rest of President Trump's national security team from Helsinki, so we can find out what the heck happened there. The explanation for what happened openly, and even more importantly, what happened in that meeting behind closed doors.
Third, our Republican friends must end the attacks on the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the special counsel. Those have mainly emanated from a small group in the House. Given the indictments, given the indictment yesterday -- not from Mueller, but from mainline Justice -- we have to let this investigation go forward. President Trump's actions yesterday lead many more Americans to suspect that something was amiss -- that there may have been collusion. What else would explain President Trump's actions and protestations in a foreign country? We need to end these attacks and let the investigation proceed unimpeded. Encourage the president to sit down for an interview with Mueller.
Fourth, the President must insist on the extradition of the 12 Russians recently indicted for election interference. In one of the more bizarre of many bizarre incidents yesterday, Putin suggested that Americans come and interview the Russians in Russia, or actually watch as Russian agents interview the Russians in Russia. Is Russia known for a free and open judicial system? Is Russia known for rule of law? Of course, not. It was an absurd suggestion. Any other president would have rejected it as out of hand. We need to bring them here. The president -- to represent the honor and strength of the United States, something he has failed to do thus far -- needs to demand it.
Finally, election security. Our elections are at risk. We have now had indictments of Russians interfering in the 2016 elections. Everyone except President Trump in America admits that's happened -- Democrats and Republicans, Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell -- that Russia tried to interfere. And interfere, most everyone believes, on President Trump's behalf. Why? Well, we heard Putin's explanations.
Now, we can't have that happen again. We must move election security legislation immediately. To its credit, in a bipartisan way, this chamber and the other put $380 million in the last omnibus for election security. But there's very fine legislation. One sponsored by Senator Klobuchar, and she's worked with some of the Republicans on that. Another sponsored by Senator Chris Van Hollen. I believe Senator Rubio is a cosponsor of that. We need to move that legislation, hopefully with bipartisan support, quickly.
These are five simple things we could do, together, Democrat and Republican. Now yesterday, I saw my good friend -- I see him sitting here -- Senator Cornyn that we've done most of these things already. I wish it were so, but it isn't. We haven't done any of them. Leader McConnell has not called for hearings to bring Secretary Pompeo and others here. We have not increased sanctions which we should do. In fact, there's a move in the House to decrease them. We have not asked the president to demand extradition of the Russians, and we have not urged some of those Republicans, particularly in the House, to stop interfering with the Mueller investigation. We haven't done any of the four I mentioned yesterday, nor the fifth I mentioned today. I hope Senator Cornyn and others will lead the charge and help us get those done, in a bipartisan way, for the sake of this wonderful and great country.