Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe criticized Donald Trump’s behavior at a summit with Vladimir Putin earlier this summer in Helsinki, suggesting that the president should be impeached, The Hill reports.
According to McAuliffe, Russia is undermining the United States, and the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, “is a foe” who “fights” the United States “every single day.”
The fact that Donald Trump has met with Putin is not the issue, McAuliffe suggested. Rather, the way the president behaved at the summit is what Americans should be concerned about. The former Virginia governor compared Trump to former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, claiming that both of them would have been impeached had they behaved like Trump.
“Imagine this, that President Clinton or President Obama had travelled to Helsinki and done what Trump had done, you would already have impeachment trials.”
The former governor also added that Trump should “stop bear-hugging Putin.”
As The Hill noted, Trump was widely criticized for siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence services. At the Helsinki summit, according to CNN, Donald Trump said that he “doesn’t see” any reason why Russia would be responsible for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump stressed that he has “great confidence” in the American intelligence community, but also added that Vladimir Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial of Russian election interference. As CNN pointed out, every U.S. intelligence chief has backed the intelligence community’s claims. Furthermore, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee did the same.
As NPR reported, dozens of U.S. politicians and government officials criticized Donald Trump’s behavior at the summit. Both Republicans (like John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan) and Democrats (Senator Bob Casey, for instance) ripped into President Trump.
Trump’s statements about Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election may have been shocking, as NPR put it, but after backlash, Trump slightly backtracked via Twitter, reaffirming that he does indeed have high confidence in the U.S. intelligence community, but adding that Russia and the United States “must get along.”
As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Former Governor McAuliffe, who used to be a DNC chairman who held top spots in Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, however, argued that Donald Trump had “violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend…against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
Launched in 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has not sat well with the president. Trump repeatedly referred to Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” led by “17 angry Democrats,” frequently labeling it a “hoax” and blasting Mueller’s team via Twitter.
More recently, as CNBC reported, the president urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Mueller probe. This was characterized as obstruction of justice by some, so the president’s legal team reacted, as well as White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, defending Trump’s right to voice his private opinion via social media.