President Trump would show “weakness” if he fails to broach the subject of Russian interference in the 2016 elections during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, a House Democrat said Monday.
“President Trump absolutely needs to bring up the issue of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections. If he doesn’t, it sends a signal of weakness to Vladimir Putin and it sends a message that the U.S. somehow condones what Russia did last year,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and outspoken Trump critic, said in an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
Trump and the Russian president are expected to have their first face-to-face encounter at the Group of 20 summit in Germany later this week.
The meeting comes amid investigations of whether Trump campaign members possibly colluded with the Russian government to sway the election.
CNN reported earlier Monday that Trump plans to focus on Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and aggression in Ukraine during his meeting with Putin. The report cited low expectations from administration officials that Trump will bring up Russia’s election interference.
Ahead of the meeting, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser said that Russia’s patience “has its limits,” refraining from responding to the Obama administration’s decision in December to expel Russian officials from two diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York.
Shuttering the compounds was part of the Obama administration’s slate of sanctions issued in retaliation for Russia’s attempts to influence the election.
The Trump administration has reportedly been considering whether to restore Russian access to the compounds, but no decision has been made.