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Illinois Lawmakers Slam Trump's Helsinki Summit

Helsinki Summit
Alexander Zemlianichenko
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of the press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, July 16, 2018.

President Donald Trump has been taking heat from both sides of the aisle following his news conference in Helsinki on Monday in which he sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, whose 18th Congressional District includes much of McLean County, said in a statement "Trump should respect the findings of our intelligence professionals and assure that threats against our values and ideas are met with strong criticism and consequences."

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, whose 13th Congressional District includes parts of Bloomington-Normal, told GLT he is disappointed in Trump and that the president missed a "golden opportunity" to show strength and stand by U.S. intelligence.

"I think the president tried to clarify his statements today, and I don't think he should have needed to clarify them in the first place," said Davis, a Taylorville Republican. "He should have come out strong and said, 'We trust our intelligence. Where are the indicted Russian military officers, and when are they going to be sent to the United States for prosecution?'"

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, whose 16th Congressional District covers Ford and Livingston counties, called on Trump to retract the entire Helsinki news conference and "reassess your view of allies and enemies."

Many Democrats are taking a harsher view.

LaHood's challenger, Eureka College professor Junius Rodriguez, called Trump's news conference “one of the lowest moments in the history of the American presidency."

“The leader of the free world cowed in obeisance to earn the good graces of one of the modern world’s most vile thugs," he said.

Putin denied interfering in the 2016 election, even after the United States charged 12 Russian military officers.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called Trump’s performance in Helsinki “appalling.”

“By ignoring the evidence of Russian interference in our 2016 election, President Trump joined Vladimir Putin in blaming America for the charges and throwing our intelligence and justice officials under the bus," Durbin said.

Durbin said Trump’s “non-stop preening over his 2016 election victory shows clearly that his ego is more important to him than standing up for America.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said Trump was trying to draw a moral equivalence between the United States and Russia.

“Republicans in Congress cannot continue to turn a blind eye towards the very real possibility that Vladimir Putin has compromised our commander in chief and turned him, perhaps without his knowledge, into a Russian asset,” Duckworth said in a statement.

Davis' Democratic challenger, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield, said we "need leaders who will stand up for our democratic values."

“Historically, our U.S. presidents have been living, breathing symbols of our democratic ideals. By refusing to listen to our own U.S. intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference in our elections and instead deferring to Vladimir Putin, President Trump has defied that tradition," Londrigan said in a statement. "We need leaders who will stand up for our democratic values. I will."
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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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