Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Senior Member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, and the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism Homeland Security and Investigations, and a leading voice on the rule of law, is blasting the President’s decision to invite the former head of the KGB to Washington:
“The decision to invite the former head of the KGB to Washington is wholly inappropriate under benign circumstances, but all the more so following the nauseating, embarrassing and weak performance by the President of the United States in his bilateral meeting with the Russian autocrat. Indeed, the President’s conduct in Helsinki was a regrettable case study in how the leader of the free world should not act when standing shoulder to shoulder with a dictator, and the leader of a country that is nothing more than a geopolitical belligerent. Were his unparalleled and unprecedented submissiveness not enough, his unqualified deference of the autocrat came in a press conference following a highly disfavored one-on-on meeting with Putin in which no transcript of the meeting was produced; no notes taken; no prospective plan of action to tackle and no action items produced as a function of the meeting. Instead, in the meeting’s wake, we are left with the uncomfortable reality that: it came following the indictments of a dozen Russian military officials for their interference in the 2016 election; the meeting was likely surveilled by the former Soviet Republic; and now, mere days after the fiasco in Helsinki, the President has invited the Russian leader to Washington, news which apparently surprised the Director of National Intelligence as he was notified of the meeting by a journalist live on national television.
The statement came before the White House announced that it was postponing its invitation, but Jackson Lee remains vocal in preventing the visit from ever happening.
One of the most vocal criticisms surrounding the meeting in Helsinki was the President’s reluctance to broach the topic of the 2016 election generally and specifically, whether the dozen Russian military intelligence officers indicted by Robert Mueller would be produced to the Special Counsel so that they may face the bar of justice. Despite being the topic of relentless revisions and an intentional lack of clarity on the topic, the President stated that he took the Russian leader at his word that Russia did not interfere with the election.
“In so doing, he sided with Russian over the unanimous assessment of our country’s intelligence community. No doubt this will be mined by the Special Counsel for any nefarious motive behind this position but nonetheless, it is absurd to invite the individual who personally directed this criminal act while the Special Counsel is exploring the very important question of conspicuous intrusion of Russia in our 2016 election and whether associates of the Trump Campaign aided and abetted, and were therefore complicit, in that endeavor. But the President did not cease his obsequiousness there—he went one step further. Temporarily adopting a position that would stun the foreign policy and diplomatic corps, the President cast as an “incredible offer” Russia’s promise to produce its military intelligence officers only if the United States produced to Russia our former ambassador for questioning. While those around the President had the foresight to convince him out of this idea, by even willing to entertain this preposterous idea, the President revealed his true loyalties,” the statement read.
“For all these reasons, I will be introducing legislation designed to stop the leader of Russia from stepping foot onto American soil. Specifically, this legislation would disapprove of the visit unless the dozen Russian military intelligence officers indicted by the Special Counsel are brought to the United States and produced to stand trial and face the bar of justice; and that any such meeting between the two leaders first be approved by the Congress. The Framers of our Constitution anticipated a scenario whereby our Republic could conceivably elect someone resembling the demagoguery and unfitness for office demonstrated by this President. They did not leave Congress helpless—they vested in the first branch the ability to conduct oversight and the power of the purse. It is time for the Congress to exercise its Article I prerogatives and conduct appropriate oversight over a president sorely in need of it.”