US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the idea of forming a cyber-security unit to guard against threats such as election hacking.
“Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” Trump said following talks with the Russian leader during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Reuters reports.
Tweeting after his first meeting with Putin on Friday, Trump said it is time to work constructively with Moscow.
Trump’s idea of a cyber-security unit with Russia drew quick criticism from fellow Republicans who said Moscow cannot be trusted after its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Three Republican senators – Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida – blasted the idea.
“It’s not the dumbest idea I have ever heard but it’s pretty close,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
Trump’s apparent willingness to “forgive and forget” stiffened the senator’s resolve to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Russia, Graham added.
“There has been no penalty,” McCain, who chairs the Senate armed services committee, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program.
“Vladimir Putin … got away with literally trying to change the outcome … of our election.”
“Yes, it’s time to move forward. But there has to be a price to pay,” he added.
Rubio, on Twitter, said: “Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit’.”
Trump argued for rapprochement with Moscow in his campaign but has been unable to deliver because his administration has been dogged by investigations into the allegations of Russian interference in the election and ties with his campaign.
Moscow has denied any interference, and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.
Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program Russia cannot be a credible partner in a cyber-security unit.
“If that’s our best election defense, we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow,” he said.
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