By Jan Worth-Nelson
The President of the United States owes an apology to the American people for his behavior toward Vladimir Putin, according to U.S. House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi in a visit to Flint today, adding “we can’t afford this blackmail.”
Standing in spits of rain on Milbourne Avenue in Civic Park as part of a Congressional delegation hosted by Rep. Dan Kildee to assess progress in the Flint water crisis, Pelosi responded to a question from East Village Magazine about what counterarguments, if any, were being offered in the face of Donald Trump’s Putin-related actions.
Pelosi said Trump seemed to be frightened in the presence of Putin, who “appeared to be the puppeteer — but he [Trump] didn’t have to shine a light on the strings. And then to castigate our allies and misrepresent the facts and then pander to a KGB tyrant, much of it in private? This is highly unusual.”
Turning to the country’s electoral system, Pelosi said, “It is the consensus of our entire intelligence community that the Russians interfered with our beautiful right to vote, the sacred right to vote, and Putin himself ordered it,” Pelosi said. “That is an assault on our democracy… And now for the president to invite him to Washington? We take an oath to uphold the Constitution, we all have to honor it, and so does he.”
Pelosi then handed the mic to another member of the delegation, Congressman Denny Heck from the State of Washington’s 10th District, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. He went even farther, extending a blistering critique of House Republicans.
“Congressional Republicans are complicit at every turn,” Heck said. “Congressional Republicans are in desperate need of an intervention for their addiction to Donald Trump. They need to get over it. They need to stand up for America — they need to put country over party — because our country is in fact, being attacked by Russia.”
“Vladimir Putin is an international criminal and a thug and an autocrat, and we should make no mistake about it — he is conducting a non-kinetic war not just against America, but against all Western democracies and all that we stand for,” Heck said.
“Let us remind ourselves what we stand for — the rule of law, free, fair and open elections. His disinformation campaign, his interference campaign, his hacking campaign was conducted not just in America but in the Brexit campaign, the French election, the German election, the Mexico election, and throughout the country.”
“I cannot explain why it is that Putin has so much power over President Trump, but I’ve come up with three reasons, any combination of which may be the case:
–He’s got the goods on him. None of us knows what that is, but it’s certainly an increasingly plausible explanation
–He’s completely duped him, he’s conned him, he’s outsmarted him.
–The president is just so woefully ignorant of the historical perspective on an epic proportion as to the effect of his words.”
Pelosi further noted that regarding her House colleagues, “it’s hard to understand why they, who had been so aware of Russia’s danger to freedom in the world, have become silent. Yesterday we had an opportunity for them to join us in increasing funds to protect the electoral infrastructure, and every single one of them voted no — in committee, and on the floor of the House. Why? It’s really an unfortunate thing.”
Asserting however that Trump is “a master of deflection,” Pelosi said she and her colleagues were working hard to bring a focus back from Trump’s “cowardice” to what she said were his “reneged” promises on a variety of issues, such as infrastructure improvements like those needed in Flint’s ongoing recovery.
“We don’t agonize, we organize, and what we’re doing here now is organizing for the children of Flint, for whatever they need to be well,” she said.
With Kildee In addition to Pelosi (CA-12) and Heck, the other members of the delegation visiting the city included Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (SC-06), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Congressman Sandy Levin (MI-09), Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-02) and Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02). Read more about the visit here.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.