The Latest on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election (all times local):10:40 a.m.
A group of Senate Democrats has joined Republican leaders in urging President Donald Trump to issue an executive order barring the Trump campaign and the Trump administration from working with Russia in the future.
The letter, signed by Sens.
Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, was sent to White House Counsel Donald McGahn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
They wrote that Trump’s actions “should not be construed to authorize the use of Russia as a bargaining chip in negotiations for an agenda that would benefit the American people.”
“The president’s actions today should not be interpreted to authorize a campaign that would profit from or benefit from Russia’s cooperation with his administration,” they wrote.
The lawmakers urged Trump to make clear to Russia that such an order would not apply to the Trump transition team.
“If you are not willing to provide the President with legal cover for his actions, then you cannot and should not engage in collusion with Russian actors,” the senators wrote.
“This executive order would be a step forward for the president and would put an end to any efforts by the Russian government to attempt to sway our election,” they continued.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the letter “the strongest indication yet that the president is not acting as the leader he claims to be.”
He said he is “very concerned” that Trump is working with Russians to undermine the U.S. democratic process.
“The Russians have tried to sow chaos in this country, to undermine our democracy and to undermine American values,” Coons said.
“They’ve tried to help Trump win.
It’s not something that the United States should tolerate.”
Coons also called on the president to provide more information about what Trump knows about the allegations.
“I believe the president should explain to the American public why he is so eager to be cooperative with Russian officials,” he said.
Coons added that the letter does not mean that he would vote to expel the president.
“I have no desire to expel him,” Coies said.
The president has a strong chance of keeping his seat on the Judiciary Committee, but it is unclear whether the Democrats would block him from getting his first major legislative accomplishment.
Senators on the panel, which is probing the Russian meddling in the election and any possible collusion with the Trump team, are expected to issue a report Monday that could lead to impeachment proceedings against Trump.
The senators wrote that they would also press the White House to provide “substantive answers” to questions about whether the president obstructed justice during the investigation into Russian interference.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has repeatedly said that there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow.
Democrats on the committee said they would push for the White, Senate and Justice departments to release the full details of the investigation to the public.
“We will be asking the administration to provide details about the scope and breadth of the Russia investigation and what information it has provided to us,” White House Deputy Press Press Secretary Michael Short said in a statement.
“While we await that response, the committee should continue to focus on the most pressing issues facing the American People and our country.”
Trump and the White house declined to comment on the letter, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did say in a tweet that the senators “have the right to call for a complete investigation of any links between the Trump Campaign and Russia.”
A statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Walker did not specifically address the letter.
“All presidents do business with foreign governments and our foreign policy and foreign policy officials should follow their own legal counsel to determine what they should do when doing business with a foreign government,” Walker said.