Sen. Menendez and Pompeo Clash Over Private Trump-Putin Meeting: ‘I Understand the Game You’re Playing!’
Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey clashed with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over what transpired during President Donald Trump‘s private two hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland this month, as the administration official accused the lawmaker of playing a pandering “game” while speaking in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“When the president meets alone with President Putin, it allows the Kremlin state media and the Russian ministry of defense to provide more information, at least from their perspective, not only to the American people, but sometimes it seems to members of the president’s own cabinet,” Menendez stated, prior to the start of his interrogation. “Has the president told you what he and President Putin discussed in their two-hour closed door meeting in Helsinki?”
Pompeo responded by declining to answer the senator and added, “The predicate of your question implied some notion that there was something improper about having a one-on-one meeting.”
“I completely disagree with the premise of the question,” the White House official said.
The two continued by arguing over if Pompeo talked to the US translator who was present at the meeting and if he was briefed on any notes taken during the world leaders’ discussion. Additionally, Menendez grilled Pompeo on if Trump talked about decreasing American sanctions on Russia while speaking with Putin.
“The president is entitled to have private meetings,” Menendez shot back “I’m telling you what U.S. policy is.”
He continued: “I’m telling you what he had a conversation with Vladimir Putin about and telling you what U.S. Policy is. Senator, I understand the game that you’re playing. I get it, I do.”
“Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, I don’t appreciate you characterizing my questions,” Menendez responded. “My questions is to get to the truth. We don’t know what the truth is. And the only way we will know what the truth is, what transpired in those two hours, in a highly amazing period of time to spend alone one-on-one is my understanding at least that if you were briefed by the president what he told you, I don’t think that’s unfair to know.”
Before changing the subject to North Korea, the Democratic lawmaker accused Pompeo of refusing to answer “any of the questions to get us to the truth.”
Watch above, via CNN.
[image via screengrab]
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