Democrats and some Republicans in Florida spoke out critically following President Trump’s news conference held with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki. During the appearance, Trump dismissed his own national intelligence director’s conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election and sided with Putin instead. Putin denied Russia’s involvement.
“President Putin says it’s not Russia,” said Trump. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Among the most forceful responses came from Miami-Dade County U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, running in one of the most competitive congressional reelection campaigns of any Republican in Florida.
“U.S. relationship w/Russia has deteriorated to current state b/c of Russia’s criminal interference in our elections, lack of respect for human rights & invasive, militant actions against its neighbors & our allies around the world,” he tweeted. “Blaming it on anyone else is unacceptable.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s response on social media was not as harsh, though he reportedly said at an Atlantic Council event with Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner that what Trump said “was not accurate.”
“Foreign policy must be based on reality, not hyperbole or wishful thinking,” tweeted Rubio. “And the reality is #Russia is an adversary. Because #Putin doesn’t believe in win/win scenarios & thinks only way to make Russia stronger is to make U.S. weaker. Any approach not based on this will fail.”
Echoing Trump’s remarks, however, was Congressman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis. Trump is backing DeSantis over Adam Putnam in next month’s primary election.
“People in the Russian government didn’t think Obama would do anything. So Obama’s weakness over eight years, starting with the reset, I think that that did invite Russia to be more belligerent than they otherwise would if they had someone pushing back,” DeSantis told Fox News.
Democrats weren’t nearly so circumspect.
“Weak, weak, weak!” Tweeted Tampa U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
“@RealDonald Trump that was a disgraceful betrayal of America. You complimented Putin while turning a blind eye to clear evidence of an attack by Russia. You couldn’t bring yourself to stand up for our great country, beyond a failure in leadership. #TreasonSummit.”
“Today we witnessed the President of the United States of America deliberately and intentionally undermine our national security by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Vladimir Putin in his quest to weaken our nation,” said former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. “This is one of the most disgraceful things we have ever witnessed on the world stage. The sanctity of our democracy is more important than President Trump’s friendship with Putin.”
Citing the indictment by special prosecutor Robert Mueller of 12 Russian intelligence agents for interfering with the 2016 presidential election, Gwen Graham said it was time for Florida Governor Rick Scott to take action now to secure Florida’s election system.
“Special Investigator Robert Mueller has formally revealed what the nation already knew. Russians collaborated with Florida GOP operatives,” Graham said in a statement. “Florida was ground zero for the attacks, but our governor and the Republican Legislature have failed to take any meaningful action to secure our voting systems.”