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Flake to introduce resolution countering Trump's Russia summit rhetoric

The Hill logo The Hill 7/16/2018 Jordain Carney

a man in a suit standing in front of a building © Provided by The Hill GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) said Monday that he is working on a resolution to counter President Trump's controversial comments made during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I think we should pass a resolution on the heels of all this," Flake told reporters.

The resolution, which Flake said he was drafting, would reaffirm support for the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller and say Congress does not question the recent indictment of 12 Russians for election meddling.

It would also, according to Flake, "hold Russia to account" and say the United States stands with its European allies.

"For Congress, the Senate, not to reaffirm our support and that to let people know that we don't question the intelligence, we're there," he added.

Flake indicated he could introduce the resolution as soon as Monday.

Trump's comments during his press conference with Putin in Helsinki shocked Washington.

In addition to refusing to disavow Putin over Russia's election meddling, Trump noted Putin strongly denied interfering in the 2016 election and said the United States was partly to blame for the U.S.-Moscow relationship.

"It was disbelief, really. It was disbelief. I couldn't believe that a president would put as much faith, or more faith, in the words of a dictator ... over our own intelligence services," Flake added, asked about Trump's rhetoric.

But it's unclear if the Senate would be willing to pass a resolution formally pushing back on Trump. Flake noted he had not talked to GOP leadership about his proposal.

And while several GOP senators sought rhetorical distance from Trump-issuing statements criticizing him for refusing to hold Putin accountable-few of them have suggested triggering a fight with the president through a resolution or legislation.

While Republicans have previously broken with Trump's rhetoric, including on Russia or tariffs, leadership has shown little inclination to bring a bill to the floor months before a midterm election if it doesn't have the White House's support.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) floated that Congress could pass a resolution but questioned if it would be able to counter the international unease sparked by Trump's rhetoric.

"We'll think of ways to reinforce. They know, I think, how Congress feels in general but the president can do more damage in 15 minutes to that relationship than all of us working together for months can overcome," Corker, the retiring chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.

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