White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah called the nerve agent attack on UK soil a “brazen and reckless” attack perpetrated by the Russians that prompted expulsion of 60 diplomats from the U.S.
Shah repeatedly referred to the nerve chemical attack on a former spy and his daughter as “reckless” and “brazen” during Monday’s press briefing. His comments came just hours after the administration announced that the U.S. would expel 60 Russian “diplomats” from the country and close the Russian embassy in Seattle, Washington. A U.S. government official accused these diplomats of using that status to disguise their intelligence-gathering efforts in a Monday morning call with reporters.
“The poisoning in the UK that has kind of led to today’s announcement was a very brazen action. It was a reckless action. It endangered not just two individuals who were poisoned, but many civilians — many innocent civilians,” said Shah. “This is not the type of conduct that the United States or allies can accept.”
President Trump still hopes that the U.S. can work with Russia on “areas of mutual concern” such as counterterrorism, should the Russians choose to.
Shah said that the U.S. has been “been joined at the hip with the UK” regarding the attack. “We stand firmly with our ally.”
Asked about why the expulsions are being announced three weeks after the attacks, Shah said that the U.S. coordinated with a dozen allies. Indeed more than a dozen other nations planned to expel Russian diplomats with announcements to this effect. The majority of the countries also pinned the “diplomats” as spies.
“We wanted this to be a joint effort in which the United States is joining both the European Union and NATO Allies,” said Shah.
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