July 16, 2018 In The News, Media

South Jersey lawmakers: Trump is wrong on Russia

The three congressmen who represent South Jersey, including two Republicans, expressed their disagreement Monday with President Donald Trump over his latest statements regarding Russia.

They were among a slew of lawmakers who quickly spoke out against Trump after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, saying the U.S. leader was sending bad messages.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse,” Trump tweeted Monday morning, blaming “many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

The Russian foreign ministry responded by liking Trump’s tweet and then replying: “We agree.”

But Rep. Tom MacArthur, a Republican and staunch Trump ally, said the president is wrong.

“I take issue with President Trump blaming the state of our relationship on our supposed ‘foolishness and stupidity,’” MacArthur, who represents part of Burlington and Ocean counties, said in a news release.

“Our relationship with Russia is strained because of Vladimir Putin’s actions,” he said. “He has invaded his neighbors, attacked America’s allies, and interfered with our elections and the elections of our closest allies. Putin is a corrupt, murderous thug and cannot be trusted. He is a threat to global security, and we need to remind our friends and our foes that the United States stands strongly opposed to this autocratic kleptocrat.”

Standing next to Putin on Monday, Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trump’s benefit, and seemed to accept Putin’s insistence that Russia’s hands were clean.

But Trump is wrong about that, said Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican from Atlantic County who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.

“I strongly disagree w/ statement that Russia did not meddle in 2016 election,” LoBiondo, who is retiring after 24 years in Congress, said in a tweet. “With all I have seen on House Intel Comm & additional indictments of 12 Russian officers last week, it is clear Russia’s intentions. President Trump missed opportunity to hold Putin publicly accountable.”

MacArthur also cited the indictments in his comments.

“Clean and fair elections are the bedrock of our more than 200-year-old democracy,” he said. “The United States, especially the president, should take any foreign government’s attempt to influence election results as a threat to our democracy itself.”

Rep. Donald Norcross called Trump’s comments “wrong” and “shameful.”

“I support the unanimous conclusion of America’s intelligence community that Russia hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Norcross, a Democrat from Camden, said on Twitter. “This is not a partisan issue, we must treat it as a serious national security breach & take action to protect the very fabric of our democracy.

“Trump isn’t sure who to believe or who to blame,” Norcross added. “Well I am Mr. President: believe America & blame Putin.”

Read more at the Cherry Hill Courier Post.