President Trump's post-summit news conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin only served to add more fuel to the fiery condemnation of his behavior in office. Now, a veteran lawmaker has called on Congress to act in response to the president's poorly-received remarks. Senator Bernie Sanders' video on Trump's Russia comments wants Congress to take action right away, and it minces no words in its summary of the president's Helsinki performance.
Posted to Twitter Tuesday evening, "The Trump-Putin Disgrace" video features Sanders, who said, "At the Helsinki summit yesterday, President Trump embarrassed our country," before the video splices to a clip of Trump saying, "I have President Putin. He said it's not Russia."
The video continues, with Sanders claiming that Trump " ... undermined American values and openly sided with Russia's authoritarian leader against the U.S. intelligence community's unanimous assessment that Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election." At this point, the video cuts to a shot of a reporter asking Trump, "Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you consider them that they are responsible for?" "Yes, I do," Trump replies. "I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish, and I think we're all to blame."
That line was one of many that drew the ire of critics; several political figures denounced Trump for insulting his own country and pointed to his comments as an unprecedented refusal by an American president to trust his own intelligence agencies over the statements of a foreign antagonist.
"Today, after a strong international backlash, Trump, in a bizarre statement, claimed he misspoke and of course, blamed the media for reporting what he said," Sanders says on screen again. "Today we face an unprecedented situation of a president who for whatever reason refuses to acknowledge an attack on American democracy. Either he really doesn't understand what has happened or he is under Russian influence because of compromising information that they have on him or he is ultimately more sympathetic to Russia's authoritarian-oligarchic form of government than he is to American democracy."
"Whatever the reason, Congress must act, and act now, to demand that the president of the United States represent the interests of the American people and not Russia," Sanders said at the end of the video.
Sanders does not specifically say what he wants Congress to do in the video, but there are a few actions that Democratic members of the Senate are exploring. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has already called for more intense sanctions on Russia. He's also demanded that Trump's national security team testify before Congress to clarify precisely what was said at the summit and "for defense of the Department of Justice and other intelligence agencies," according to The New York Times.
“In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin,” said Schumer, CNBC reported.
The censure was strong enough to warrant a party gathering; Democratic leaders held a morning meeting on Tuesday to discuss how the Senate should respond, according to CNN, citing Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. Another idea called for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing with the American interpreter who was in the room for the private one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin.
"There are many options," Durbin said to CNN. "Many of us feel we need to go beyond a statement of the obvious — that we stand behind the professionals at the Department of Justice and intelligence community and the Department of Defense. We think the Senate has to act immediately to do something. At a minimum to have a public hearing to get to the bottom of what happened in Helsinki."