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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — U.S. Rep. Steve Womack addresses Arkansans at a Capitol Hill breakfast alongside U.S. Reps (L-R) Rick Crawford, French Hill and Bruce Westerman in this 2016 file photo. - Photo by Frank Lockwood

WASHINGTON -- A congressman from Arkansas who serves on the House Intelligence Committee didn't like what he heard from President Donald Trump during Monday's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Among other things, the American head of state expressed doubts about claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from Jonesboro, says the evidence is hard to ignore.

"I think the findings in the House Intelligence Committee have been clear and forthright and they demonstrate, unequivocally, that the Russians employed active measures in an effort to influence our election here," Crawford said. "It doesn't necessarily mean that they were successful in altering the outcome; it just means we know they were engaged."

Choosing between Putin's version of events and U.S. intelligence services, "I think you have to respect the findings of the intelligence community," Crawford said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Crawford also criticized Trump for failing to publicly acknowledge the Russian leader's past actions.

Arkansas' U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman are shown in these file photos.

"[With] all due respect, I think this was an opportunity to have taken a very strong position against Putin for a whole laundry list of reasons. You know he's a former KGB operative, he's engaged in egregious human-rights violations, he's had people murdered, he's used nerve gas to attack his enemies, he's unlawfully annexed Crimea, he has injected Russia into Syria in league with Iran. There's a variety of things that he has done that he should be called out for," Crawford said. "I think this would've been an opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, that opportunity's past and I don't know that it will come back again any time soon. But unfortunately, that's kind of where we're at right now."

After Trump's news conference with Putin, other members of the all-Republican Arkansas congressional delegation also raised objections.

"I'm disappointed the President downplayed the very real threat Russia poses to our country and our values. Make no mistake, Russia is dangerous," U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers tweeted. "I thank the brave individuals in our intelligence community who work daily to keep America safe."

"Our nation's intelligence community, as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee, is confident that Russia intervened in the 2016 elections," U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers tweeted. "I agree w/ their assessment & believe our relationship w/ Russia must consistently be viewed through this lens. Russia is not our friend."

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle released a written statement that criticized Putin without panning the president.

"Vladimir Putin is a committed adversary of the United States. In the last few years alone, Russia meddled in our presidential campaign, violated arms-control treaties with the United States, invaded Ukraine, assassinated political opponents in the United Kingdom, made common cause with Iran in propping up Bashar al-Assad's outlaw regime in Syria, and cheated not only in the Olympics, but even in the Paralympics. These are not the actions of a friend, an ally, or merely a nation with aligned interests," he said.

U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock also portrayed Russia as hostile.

"For decades Russia has engaged in propaganda and political shenanigans in Western democracies, and based on publicly available intelligence and information, their efforts in the U.S. elections in 2016 were no different," he said in a written statement. "President Trump missed an opportunity today in his meeting and press conference with Russian President Putin to make clear that the United States does not believe Russian denials about meddling in our 2016 elections and that America will not stand for interference of this kind."

The House has spoken out against Russian aggression and Trump should do likewise, Hill said.

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs said the lawmaker had been traveling and that a statement was not yet available.

A Section on 07/17/2018

Print Headline: Trump's remarks stir D.C. criticism; Crawford, others: Putin’s no friend

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  • RBear
    July 17, 2018 at 5:47 a.m.

    At the one time when Trump could really show he has some clout in foreign affairs, he botched it and essentially became a state-actor of Russia. The evidence is overwhelming and Trump's attack on our nation's intelligence community further damaged our ability to confront Russia of these crimes. Mueller's latest indictments show even greater detail of the crimes. But, Trump seems to choose to ignore crimes of his buddies (pardons are great examples) and attack others like any playground bully would.
    Yesterday was one of the darkest days of the Trump presidency to this point, but I'm sure there will be darker days ahead. What I find even more disgusting are the defending comments of some of the usual suspects in here, Pack especially. In their mind, Trump does no wrong which shows how low our country has sunk at a time when we need strength.

  • PopMom
    July 17, 2018 at 6:28 a.m.

    I look forward to seeing what actions these Republicans will take to protect our nation--especially the integrity of our elections.

  • TimberTopper
    July 17, 2018 at 6:47 a.m.

    LOL! Cotton and Hill didn't say anything bad about Trump's actions, just warned against Russia. Mueller continue to do your work, as it appears Putin has something on Trump. Usually he's the bully in chief to our allies, but he was the azz kisser in chief to Putin. The former Republican Party is now the Russian/Republican Party, will the influx of the Tea Party, and the old Dixiecrats.

  • WGT
    July 17, 2018 at 7:11 a.m.

    Vote republicans out. Do not vote for republicans again. This is an ugly chapter in the history of The American Presidency. Putin has dirt on Trump. Wake up. What else do American Citizens need to solidify the obvious fact Trump is compromised?

  • Nodmcm
    July 17, 2018 at 7:41 a.m.

    What if the Russians quit helping the Republican Party and next time, start hacking the election for the benefit of Democrats? Do we really want a country where a foreign intelligence service like the Russian GRU chooses the winners in our elections?

  • LRCrookAttorney
    July 17, 2018 at 8:10 a.m.

    The Russians are not our friends. The Chinese have never been our friends. However, the Russians and Chinese have great influence over the south east peninsula and for Trump to say on national television that Putin is a liar and Russia did interfere with elections, would have accomplished nothing whatsoever. If he had done that: 1. The democrats would be yelling "see, he admitted it, now impeach him;" and 2. We would not be able to coerce (maybe not possible anyway, but definitely not possible if you called Putin a liar) Russia to aid in the denuclearization of the southeast Asian peninsula and the problem with terrorists.

  • LRCrookAttorney
    July 17, 2018 at 8:16 a.m.

    Basically, it is the same argument that republicans made during Obama's Presidency. They harped over and over again about Obama not saying ISIS but instead saying ISIL, calling the terrorist organization the JV team and refusing to call it "islamic terrorism." I did not agree with the rhetoric then, because Obama was trying to maintain relations with several Islamic states that were supporting us at the time, as well as maintaining relationships with others. As I do not agree with the rhetoric here, that Trump should have called the President of Russia a liar on national television. For Trump to have done so would have given fodder to the fire of him criticizing all leaders.

  • ZeebronZ
    July 17, 2018 at 8:22 a.m.

    With all due respect, you don't poke the bear while your in his den, right?

  • RBear
    July 17, 2018 at 8:24 a.m.

    Zeberon trying to figure out when Russia annexed Finland.

  • RBear
    July 17, 2018 at 8:28 a.m.

    LRCrook you are bizarre in your apologetic explanation for Trump. The ISIL comparison is hardly the same. In fact, to attempt that is quite the stretch. You may claim independence from Trump, but you’re really just a Trump shill. Now, I’ll sit back and wait for the ad hominems to flood back from you.