- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2018

Senate GOP leaders blocked a non-binding bipartisan resolution Thursday that would have put the chamber on record as standing behind the intelligence community and its findings that Russian interfered in the 2016 election.

The resolution, authored by Sens. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, and Chris Coons, Delaware Democrat, was offered in response to President Trump widely-panned trip to Helsinki where he publicly accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russian did not mess with the election.

But the effort flamed out after Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, stood in opposition — effectively killing the resolution under Senate rules.

“My concern with this resolution is that it is purely a symbolic act,” Mr. Cornyn said.

The Texas Republican said Senate committees should be “permitted to call the witnesses and ask the hard questions and develop the record before we go on record as to a resolution like this.”



Mr. Flake said he was surprised by the objection to the measure, which commended the Department of Justice investigation, which led to a recent indictment of 12 Russian officials, embraced the intelligence community’s conclusions, and called for Russia to be held accountable for its actions.

It also demanded hearings into what Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin discussed behind closed doors and for the enactment of sanctions against Russia.

Speaking on the floor moments earlier, Mr. Flake described the Helsinki summit as “truly an Orwellian moment” and slammed the president.

“What we saw earlier this week in Helsinki is what happens when you wage war on objective reality for two solid years, calling real things fake and fake things real, as if conditioning other to embrace the same confusion,” Mr. Flake said of Mr. Trump.

“Ultimately you are rendered unable to tell the difference between the two and are at critical times seemingly rendered incapable of thinking clearly,” he said.

Standing beside Mr. Putin Monday, Mr. Trump appeared to embrace Mr. Putin’s denial of tampering in the election over the conclusion of the intelligence community, telling reporters that Mr. Putin “just said it’s not Russia.”

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” he said.

Mr. Trump later clarified his remarks, but that was not enough for Democrats and Republicans who were appalled by Mr. Trump’s performance.

“The findings of our intelligence community regarding the Russian aggression are not matters of opinion — no matter how powerful or strong Putin’s denial,” Mr. Flake said. “That choice leaves us contemplating a dark mystery: Why did he do that? What would compel our president to do such a thing?”

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