United States Senator Ben Sasse calls President Trump’s comments at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin “mind blowing.”
Sasse says Trump missed an opportunity to articulate what makes America great during the news conference in Helsinki Monday.
“Putin fears the very stuff that America believes in,” Sasse tells Jack Mitchell, host of LNK Today on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “We believe in human dignity. We believe in free speech, press, religion, assembly, protest. We don’t believe that governments give us rights. These are rights that God gives us by nature and government exists to secure rights that people already have.”
Sasse says Trump needed to stand up to Putin.
“It’s not the U.S.’s job to be the policeman everywhere on earth, but it is definitely part of the U.S.’s job to articulate who we are and what we believe and the stuff we believe in scares the crap out of Putin, because all he believes in is might makes right, which is why he’s a murderer,” according to Sasse.
Earlier in the European trip, Trump pressured NATO members to contribute more toward the defense organization. Allies reaffirmed past promises to increase their payments.
Sasse says Trump’s criticism of NATO played into Putin’s hands.
“If you can undermine U.S. confidence in the most successful military alliance of the last two millennia, the military alliance that won the Cold War, that’s his chance to maintain power even though his economy is collapsing,” Sasse says. “And, so, we needed to speak clearly on the global stage yesterday and, unfortunately, the president chose to side with Putin instead of the patriots of the U.S. intelligence community. It’s really kind of mind blowing.”
Sasse says Trump should promote NATO rather than undermine it.
“We should be beefing up NATO’s defenses,” according to Sasse. “We should have been doing a whole bunch of things the last week when the president was in Europe, meeting with NATO. And, instead, we pretended Putin might be our ally and Europe our enemy. We set up Europe after World War II and we won the Cold War with those allies, because of a U.S.-led international order.”
During the news conference in Helsinki, Trump denied Russia interfered in the U.S. 2016 presidential elections, claiming Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial. Trump blamed both the United States and Russia for the breakdown in the relationship between the two countries.
Sasse says Trump made some positive steps during his European visit, then went off script during his joint appearance with Putin in Helsinki to the surprise of his own staff.
“What we said about Germany and their flirtation with cheap Russian oil and Russian energy and the way that undermines a lot of the eastern European allies that are either in or supportive of NATO, those things were the kind of things that were supposed to happen in Europe and 10% of them did, but the rest of this was just completely bizarre and off-script and the team is confused.”