Trey Gowdy (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Trey Gowdy: Evidence of Russian election meddling is "overwhelming"

Trey Gowdy said Trump missed an opportunity to denounce Putin, and said some advisers should resign


Charlie May
July 22, 2018 7:06PM (UTC)

South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy said President Donald Trump needs to publicly acknowledge that Russia undoubtedly made attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

The House Oversight Committee chairman went on to denounce advisers close to the president and suggested some should consider resigning.

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"The evidence is overwhelming, it can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016," Gowdy said in an interview on Fox News. "So the President either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration."

He added, "But the disconnect cannot continue. The evidence is overwhelming, and the President needs to say that and act like it."

Gowdy's comments come days after the president met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, where Trump favored Putin's word over that of the U.S. intelligence community. He went on to say that he had no reason to believe Russia would interfere with the U.S. election.

The following day, Trump quickly amended his words, and claimed he misspoke.

"I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t. In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,'" Trump said. "The sentence should have been: 'I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia,' sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself."

But for Gowdy, it was more than just a single mishap, Trump missed a "really good opportunity."

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"I don't know. I watched the press conference. It wasn't just that line," Gowdy explained. "The president missed, I think, a really good opportunity to distinguish the United States from any other country, but especially from Russia, and I don't know what was said in a private conversation."

He added, "But I do know this -- we got a classified briefing this week. There is no way you can listen to the evidence and not conclude, not that the Democrats were the victims, but the United States of America were the victims. We were the victims of what Russia did in 2016, and it ought to be a source of unity and rallying around the fact that we are never going to allow this to happen again and we're going to punish those who try to do it."

 

Despite the waves of criticism Trump received in the wake of the Helsinki summit, his administration doubled down once again and welcomed Putin to visit Washington D.C. in the coming months. Only 33 percent of voters approved of Trump's summit with Putin, and 56 percent of voters disapproved of Trump's conclusions about whether or not Russia interfered in the election, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll showed.

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Trump has spent his weekend repeatedly attacking Democrats and the "Fake News Media" over Twitter and has insisted the special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation is a "Rigged Witch Hunt."

Even Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was taken aback at the news that Putin would soon visit Washington D.C.

"Say that again?" Coats asked when he was informed of the White House announcement during an interview in Aspen, the New York Times reported. "That is going to be special."

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He later apologized for his "awkward" reaction, and claimed he "in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president."


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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