KEY POINT: "Rep. Dave Brat blamed former President Barack Obama for Putin's actions. Democratic challenger, Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, said all congressional leaders should rebuke Trump for courting favor with a 'despot'"
Patrick Wilson, Richmond Times-Dispatch
President Donald Trump’s Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — in which Trump challenged the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — drew disparate reactions from the candidates in the 7th Congressional District contest.
Rep. Dave Brat said on his social media platforms that the U.S. government should oppose any foreign meddling in our elections, and he blamed former President Barack Obama for Putin’s actions. Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, said all congressional leaders should rebuke Trump for courting favor with a “despot.”
Brat, a defender of Trump throughout the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller of Russian election interference, offered his response Tuesday.
“The United States should stand unequivocally opposed to a foreign government meddling in our elections in any form or fashion,” he posted on Facebook.
“Unfortunately, for eight years the Obama Administration operated as if Russia was not a major geopolitical threat. Their foreign policy failures emboldened Putin to take aggressive actions around the World and set the stage for where we are today. While we must maintain open diplomatic relations, we should continue to take a tough stance toward Russia and work against their destabilizing actions.”
Spanberger unloaded on Trump and Putin in a news release Monday.
She said she found it “disturbing to see a sitting U.S. President further erode public trust in our institutions by placing his faith in an ex-KGB thug instead of our hardworking intelligence officers.”
“At this critical time in our history, we should be able to rely on our Commander-in-Chief to stand up for the basic tenets of our democracy, defend the principles of our Constitution and stand tall in the face of any authoritarian who would seek to do us harm, especially one who has already endeavored to do so.
“Unfortunately, the President failed that basic test of moral leadership today. Instead of an impassioned advocate for American values, we saw someone more interested in courting favor with a despot than standing up to one. We witnessed an American President more eager to condemn our allies than speak harshly of an aggressor. In short, we watched as the President of the United States ceded authority to a foreign adversary and tyrant.
“... We cannot undo the damage done unless we are willing to come together, not as Republicans and Democrats, but as Americans, and with one voice demand competent, responsible representation on the world stage.”
Trump said Tuesday he misspoke during the news conference with Putin.
Brat, between Trump’s election and swearing in, criticized Obama for ordering sanctions against Russia and expelling suspected Russian intelligence operatives.
“And he’s doing this without any consultation with Congress, that has yet to see a promised report providing proof that Russia interfered with our election. So, why now?” Brat posted on Facebook on Dec. 29, 2016.
Joe Walton, a former Powhatan County supervisor, is a Libertarian candidate on the ballot in the Nov. 6 race. He was among people on social media Monday who demanded a response from Brat.
“The chilling press conference today was like the Both Sides defense after Charlottesville and one more reason for me to be seeking office again,” Walton tweeted on Monday. “As @realDonaldTrump attempts to suck up to Putin (Trump will never be legit to Putin anyway), what does @RepDaveBrat have to say?”