During a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) condemned the White House for weakening the US and strengthening a tyrant by refusing “to speak directly and clearly” about Russia’s election and the “terrible” leak of the president’s briefing materials for his call with Vladimir Putin
Sasse said that yesterday, “two terrible things” happened at the White House, and both should be condemned. Sasse continued that those two things were the White House’s uncertainty about or possible indifference to the legitimacy of Putin’s re-election and the leak of the president’s briefing materials for his call with Putin.
Sasse argued that members of the administration “shouldn’t leak.” He argued administration members should resign if they feel the moral need to do so rather than leak. He added that “leaks like this weaken us, both at home, in terms of public trust in our institutions and our public servants. And they weaken us abroad, in terms of whether or not we have any coherence to who we are as a people and how we make our decisions.”
He later stated that failing to condemn “Putin’s sham re-election” is “very foolhardy.” He continued, “Vladimir Putin is not a friend. Vladimir Putin is a despot. The president of the United States was wrong to congratulate him. And the White House press secretary was wrong to dump — to duck a simple question about whether or not Putin’s re-election was free and fair. It was not. The American people know that. The Russian people know that. And the world knows that. And yesterday, when the White House refused to speak directly and clearly about this matter, we were weakened as a nation and a tyrant was strengthened.”
Sasse later added, “[W]hat happened yesterday at the podium in the White House, the dodge on Putin, broke with the basic American moral tradition. It broke faith with our core values.”
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