U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he and Russia’s president had discussed forming a cyber security unit, an idea harshly criticized by Republicans who said Moscow could not be trusted after its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Tweeting after his first meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Friday, Trump said now was the time to work constructively with Moscow, pointing to a ceasefire deal in southwest Syria that came into effect on Sunday.
“Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said following their talks at a summit of the Group of 20 nations in Hamburg, Germany.
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, saying that Trump’s apparent willingness to “forgive and forget” stiffened his resolve to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Russia.
“There has been no penalty,” McCain, who chairs the Senate armed services committee, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program according to a CBS transcript. “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’.”