Congress

Fresh off Russia trip, Granger calls Trump-Putin meeting ‘alarming’

Congresswoman Kay Granger speaks to the Star-Telegram editorial board in July 2017.
Congresswoman Kay Granger speaks to the Star-Telegram editorial board in July 2017. dkent@star-telegram.com

Fort Worth Republican Kay Granger said President Donald Trump’s “alarming” meeting with Russian Vladimir Putin, in which he denied that Russia played a role in meddling with U.S. elections, was a stark contrast to her recent conversations with Russian officials in Moscow.

Granger called the televised press conference between the two leaders Monday “very disappointing,” but declined to specify what steps lawmakers should take to address concerns about the president’s cozy relationship with Russia.

“You can’t do things about an attitude,” Granger said of Trump’s meeting in an interview with the Star-Telegram Tuesday. “But having just returned from Russia, we had a very different experience.”

Granger, a top national security leader in her party, was part of a GOP delegation that met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, members of the Russian Duma and former Russian ambassadors in Russia earlier this month.

Granger said lawmakers on that trip were “blunt” in their conversations with the Russians, expressing “grave concerns about their policies and explain[ing] that any involvement in our elections is unacceptable.”

“I also believe the upcoming Trump-Putin meetings can build on the work that was done in the past few days in Russia and represent an important opportunity for national security and world peace,” Granger said after returning from the trip.

Rep. Kay Granger, who hopes to chair the House Appropriations Committee next year, describes her defense bill at a press conference with GOP leaders.

Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday was hardly viewed as a success by the national security community.

He shocked lawmakers from both parties by suggesting the United States and Russia were both responsible for their poor relationship. He also sided with Putin in denying Russian involvement the 2016 elections, despite evidence from the U.S. intelligence community that suggests otherwise.

“Russia is not our friend, Putin is a KGB thug,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said of the meeting to a group of reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

Trump sought to walk back some of his most damaging comments that day, saying he “accept[s] the intelligence community’s conclusion that meddling took place.”

On Capitol Hill, however, lawmakers from both parties were quickly rallying behind plans to formally address the problem.

Andrea Drusch is the Washington Correspondent for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She can be reached at adrusch@mcclatchydc.com; @andreadrusch
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