- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2017

The top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said President Trump is undermining American interests by casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was responsible for hacking efforts meant to influence the 2016 election.

“The president’s comments today, again casting doubt on whether Russia was behind the blatant interference in our election and suggesting — his own intelligence agencies to the contrary — that nobody really knows, continue to directly undermine U.S. interests,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat.

“This is not putting America first, but continuing to propagate his own personal fiction at the country’s expense,” Mr. Schiff said.

The comments came after Mr. Trump, speaking at a press conference in Poland, said Russia may not have been the only nation that meddled in the 2016 election.

“I think it was Russia, and it could’ve been other people in other countries. Could’ve been a lot of people interfered,” Mr. Trump said. “I said it very simply, it could well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries and I won’t be specific.”

Mr. Trump is set to meet Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany and to what end the Russian hacking scandal will dominate the conversation remains to be seen.

Mr. Schiff urged the president to address the issue during the private talks, saying a failure to do so will have consequences for the U.S.

“President Trump must have the courage to raise the issue of Russian interference in our elections directly with President Putin, otherwise the Kremlin will conclude he is too weak to stand up to them,” Mr. Schiff said. “That would be a historic mistake, with damaging implications for our foreign policy for years to come.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded last year that the Russian government “directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”

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