Top House Intel Democrat: 'The president acts like he's compromised' by Russian government

He also said there's "no other way to explain why he would" side with Putin.

July 22, 2018, 12:35 PM

Responding to the way President Donald Trump conducted himself during a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Trump "acts like he's compromised" by the Kremlin.

In an interview on “This Week,” ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., “Just bluntly, do you believe he is compromised by Vladimir Putin?”

“Well, I certainly think he’s acting like someone who's compromised, and it may very well be that he is compromised or it may very well be that he believes that he’s compromised, that the Russians have information on him,” Schiff said. "I think there's no ignoring the fact that, for whatever reason, this president acts like he's compromised. There is simply no other way to explain why he would side with this Kremlin, a former KGB officer, rather than his own intelligence agencies."

Rep. Adam Schiff ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee walks across the plaza on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 18, 2018.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP, FILE

Former Trump Homeland Security Adviser and now ABC News contributor Tom Bossert disagreed with Schiff’s assessment, telling Stephanopoulos in the same interview, “It’s an easy, cheap shot to say the president’s been compromised by the Russians.”

“This country elected a president that was a former businessman, and, as a result, our economy is doing well, and we spend our time trying to have productive meetings with foreign leaders,” Bossert continued.

Trump and Putin held a joint press conference at their summit Monday where it seemed Trump accepted Putin’s “strong” and “powerful” denials of Russian government election interference over the conclusion of every U.S. intelligence agency. During the press conference, Trump said, “My people came to me, Dan Coats, came to me and some others they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be.”

On Tuesday, Trump said he needed to "clarify" one word he said during the press conference.

"In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,'" Trump told the cameras during a meeting with members of Congress in the Roosevelt Room. "The sentence should have been: I don't see any reason why I wouldn't -- or why it wouldn't be Russia. So just to repeat it, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.'"

"I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself," he added.

When asked about what came out of the summit, Bossert said, “President Trump had a productive set of conversations. I think it's important to continue them.”

“They didn't agree on anything, unlike what has been reported by apparently the Russian government in a way to mislead us,” Bossert added.

Schiff said he agreed with Bossert “that the talks in Helsinki were productive, but they were productive for Vladimir Putin.”

Trump met with Putin privately for more than two hours in Helsinki Monday, with only their interpreters present for the meeting, which Schiff said was advantageous to Russia.

President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. In picture at left is seen US interpreter Marina Gross.
Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA/Rex/Shutterstock

“The reality is, we have no idea what this president, our president, agreed to," Schiff said. "That's an asymmetric advantage for the Kremlin, because they do. The Kremlin intelligence agents know exactly what took place in that meeting."

"And the fact that Dan Coats doesn't [know] is no failing on Dan Coats' part,” the congressman said, referring to Trump’s director of national intelligence, who said Thursday he didn’t “know what happened” in the one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin. “The failing is that the president hasn't even described to his own intelligence chief what he may have agreed to."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Thursday that Trump had instructed his national security adviser, John Bolton, to invite Vladimir Putin to Washington for a second summit sometime this fall, a move Bossert said he agrees with but only if it's after the November midterm elections.

"I hope though when the president says the meeting will take place in the fall or autumn that it's not right before the midterm elections, but rather after," Bossert said. "I think that would be the intelligent way to proceed."

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