Lawmakers dispute Trump remarks on Russia meddling

President Donald Trump has taken heat for his apparent refusal earlier this week to acknowledge that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

The criticism has come from Republicans and Democrats alike, including those who’ve accused Trump of treasonous actions.

Even U.S. Reps. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, and Glenn Thompson, R-Howard, usual supporters of the president, were unwilling to back Trump’s remarks that openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ firm finding of Russia’s role in the election to his benefit.

Trump has since backpedaled on his remarks, saying he accepts U.S. intelligence on Russian interference but denies collusion.

Marino released the following statement after the U.S.-Russia Summit: “America’s relationship with Russia is not binary and many of the issues discussed from energy, cybersecurity and denuclearization need mutual dedication to reach solutions. However, Russia is not our ally and their motivations are not based on the promotion of democracy and human rights like the United States. Russia and President Putin cannot be trusted.

“As a former prosecutor and Department of Justice employee, my experiences tell me the recent indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers came with merit and have facts to back them up. U.S. intelligence agencies have bountiful evidence to confirm Russian activity in our democratic processes.”

Marino was not available for additional comment.

Thompson said while he appreciated Trump’s “diplomatic efforts, I firmly believe the evidence presented to Congress shows that Russia attempted to undermine our democracy.”

He said Russia continues to pose a threat to national security and should be viewed as an adversary.

“We must continue to empower our intelligence community to ensure there are safeguards against foreign influence or interference in our electoral system,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, noted that American intelligence agencies found that Russia most certainly meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

“Whether it’s protecting the hackers responsible for this crime, committing numerous human rights violations, invading Ukraine, annexing Crimea, supporting the Iranian regime, taking hostile actions in Syria or threatening peaceful European neighbors, it’s clear that Putin is a bad actor and should be treated as an international pariah,” he stated. “Putin insists that the Russian government has nothing to do with meddling in our elections. In that case, he should not object to the hackers recently indicted being brought to justice. Absent his cooperation in achieving that justice, the United States should impose tough new sanctions on Russia.”

On Twitter, Toomey said Trump’s “blindness to Putin’s hostile acts against the U.S. and our allies — election meddling included — is very troubling.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, said Trump’s “dangerous and reckless” conduct was “a new low and a profound embarrassment for America.”

He noted that Trump believed the word of Putin over U.S. law enforcement officers and intelligence agencies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.