House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) repeated her speculation Thursday that President Trump’s behavior towards Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland was due to Putin blackmailing Trump. At her weekly press conference, Pelosi called Putin Trump’s “puppeteer.”
“We meet today at a very sad moment for our American democracy,” she began. “On Monday, the entire world witnessed President Trump cower in the presence of Putin. I sadly beseech President Trump to apologize to the American people for his disgraceful, dangerous, and damaging behavior with Putin in Helsinki.”
“Putin appears to be President Trump’s puppeteer and that day in Helsinki he shined the light on the strings,” she said.
Pelosi thanked the House Democrats for their failed attempt to subpoena the translator at Trump and Putin’s closed door meeting for questioning.
House Republicans blocked the effort Thursday morning, pointing out that such a move would call into question the privacy of future closed door meetings between world leaders.
She expressed her “utmost respect for the people who voted for President Trump” but argued that “President Trump’s actions have degraded the dignity of the office of the president, diminished the respect for our great nation throughout the world, and disregarded the obligation we have to our founders.”
Pelosi also criticized President Trump for not ruling out the possibility of allowing Russian authorities to question former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul in exchange for access to the 12 Russians indicted for interference in the 2016 election.
"That the president would even entertain the idea of subjecting our diplomats to Putin's thuggery – that is an abuse of power," she said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. has yet to make a commitment on the issue.
"The president is going to meet with his team, and we'll let you know when we have an announcement on that," she told reporters. "There was some conversation about it, but there wasn't a commitment made on behalf of the United States."