Politics & Government

McGrath ‘outraged’ over Trump’s refusal to blame Russia for hacking. Barr silent.

Amy McGrath spoke with supporters in Richmond after winning the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
Amy McGrath spoke with supporters in Richmond after winning the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District. NYT

Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath said she was “outraged” Monday with President Donald Trump’s refusal to support the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“Today, the commander-in-chief again sided with a foreign adversary rather than on our own intelligence community,” McGrath said. “It’s breathtaking. When will Republicans in Congress put the country before their political party and flat out condemn these actions?”

The retired Marine fighter pilot was reacting to a Monday summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a joint news conference after a one-on-one meeting between the two world leaders and their translators, Trump did not push back when Putin denied that his government attempted to interfere with the U.S. Presidential election.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump told reporters in Helsinki, Finland.

Trump’s comments differ from the consensus in the American intelligence community. Last week, a special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.

Trump’s remarks brought swift criticism from both Republican and Democratic politicians, but U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, was not among them. Jodi Whitaker, his spokeswoman, said Barr was in meetings and hadn’t seen Trump’s comments.

“He’s preparing for a Financial Services Committee hearing Wednesday with (Chairman of the Federal Reserve) Jay Powell,” Whitaker said Monday afternoon. “And he has not had a chance to look at it yet.”

Whitaker noted that Barr voted for a resolution in July 2017 that strengthened sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. At the time, Barr said the sanctions “will put increased pressure on these belligerent actors who threaten their neighbors and the United States while participating in cyber crimes, illicit missile and nuclear programs, and crimes against humanity.”

Barr is in a heated race for re-election against McGrath and has rarely distanced himself from Trump, who won Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District by 15 points in 2016.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told reporters at the Capitol Monday that he has said repeatedly that “‘the Russians are not our friends.’ And I entirely agree with the assessment of our intelligence community.”

When McGrath was asked about Putin Saturday as she opened her Anderson County campaign headquarters, she made a similar criticism of the Republican-led Congress.

“It does come down to leadership, it does come down to putting your country above your political party,” McGrath said. “There is a reason Congress is doing nothing right now and it’s because it’s controlled by Republicans who care more about their political party and the ramifications of this to their political party than their country.”

McClatchy Washington D.C. Bureau reporter Lesley Clark contributed to this story.

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