The prospect of partnering with Russia on a cybersecurity unit raised eyebrows in Washington.
“It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Nobody’s saying, Mr. President, the Russians changed the outcome,” Graham said to Chuck Todd. “You won fair and square. But they did try to attack our election system. They were successful in many ways and the more you do this, the more people are suspicious about you and Russia.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who unsuccessfully challenged Trump for the Republican nomination, also blasted the idea. Rubio likened working with the Kremlin to prevent election meddling to partnering with Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s regime on a “Chemical Weapons Unit.” Assad is notorious for using deadly chemical weapons on his people, including children.
“While reality & pragmatism requires that we engage Vladimir Putin, he will never be a trusted ally or a reliable constructive partner,” Rubio said in a tweet. He added in another: “We have no quarrel with Russia or the Russian people. Problem is with Putin & his oppression, war crimes & interference in our elections.”
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter made a similar fox-guarding-the-hen-house analogy on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is like a guy who robbed your house asking for a working group on burglary,” Carter said of Russia and cybersecurity.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, also responded with a dig at Trump’s statements. “No art to this deal: What kind of “tough negotiator” goes into talks undermining his country’s own position, as you did attacking US intel?”
Speaking shortly thereafter on “State of the Union,” Schiff said that it was “dangerously naive” to rely on the Russians for help. “The Russians want to take down liberal democracy,” he told Dana Bash.
Schiff said that if the U.S. was going to partner with Putin on cybersecurity, “We might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow.”