Corker urges Trump to address concerns of Russian influence

Corker urges Trump to address concerns of Russian influence

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair says Russia is no friend of U.S.

February 15th, 2017 by Dave Flessner in Breaking News

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, file photo, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington during the committee's confirmation hearing for UN Ambassador-designate, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. When President Donald Trump paused the nation's refugee program with the stroke of a pen, top congressional leaders of his own party were left to find out the same way the general public did: from the media as Trump signed the order. Corker told reporters Monday, Jan. 30: "I guess one of you guys probably told me about it. Thank you for that." Lawmakers complained that they were left in the dark as details of the plan were worked out. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., today urged the White House to quickly address questions about any undue Russian influence with President Trump and his supporters following the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn this week for misleading the vice president about his talks with Russia's ambassador.

"We need to get to the bottom of what the Russian interference was and what the relationship was with associates of the Trump effort," Corker said today in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "That is the big elephant in the room that has got to be dealt with in the most appropriate way. And it needs to be dealt with quickly and we need to get it behind us."

Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump "has begun to evolve to a better place" on most foreign policy issues, including China, Israel and other Middle East policies. But President Trump has not adopted a traditional U.S . approach to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

"The one area where the evolution is not taking place is Russia," Corker said. "Russia is not our friend. Russia has done nefarious things to our country, against our interest, against democracy and against the West for the last three or four years in big ways when they saw weakness. We've got to push back against that."

Corker said Trump "should not take any bold steps relative to Russia" and the sanctions imposed at the end of 2016 by former President Obama should be kept in place.

"People are concerned that he is going to strip away sanctions that are in place, but I think that is almost impossible now with everything that has happened," Corker said.

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee have pledged to expand their ongoing probe of Russian influence in last year's presidential election campaign to include an examination of any contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government. Corker urged the White House to quickly get all the facts out.

"Let's get everything out on the Russian issue as quickly as possible," Corker said."Otherwise, it is going to distract from the first six, seven months of this presidency where the American people are counting on huge things occurring."