Trump, hit­ting back on Twit­ter, ac­cuses Schumer of Putin ties

New York sen­a­tor met Rus­sian leader at gas sta­tion event.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Jonathan Lemire

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, his ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der siege for con­tacts with Rus­sian of­fi­cials, is call­ing for “an im­me­di­ate in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer’s own ties to Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s ev­i­dence? A 14-year-old photo of Schumer and Putin hold­ing cof­fee and dough­nuts in a New York City gas sta­tion.

The pres­i­dent on Fri­day tweeted a photo of the two men, call­ing for a probe into Schumer’s “ties to Rus­sia and Putin” and called the New York sen­a­tor “A to­tal hyp­ocrite!” Trump did not say where the photo came from, but Schumer quickly pointed out that it was taken in 2003 when Putin ven­tured to New York to cel­e­brate the open­ing of a Rus­sian-owned Lukoil gas sta­tion on Man­hat­tan’s west side.

Sev­eral news or­ga­ni­za­tions cov­ered that event, which drew far more po­lit­i­cal star power than the av­er­age gas sta­tion open­ing.

Schumer, in his own tweet, said he would “hap­pily talk” un­der oath about his meet­ing with Putin, which took place “in full view of press and pub­lic.” He then chal­lenged Trump to do the same.

On the same trip to the United States in 2003, Putin trav­eled to Camp David in Mary­land, where he met with Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and the two held a joint news con­fer­ence.

Trump’s tweet came just hours after the con­ser­va­tive web­site Drudge Re­port made the photo its lead im­age. That was a day after the photo was un­earthed by the proTrump blog Gate­way Pun­dit, which ran it with the head­line “Where’s the out­rage?”

Trump tar­geted con­gres­sional Democrats for their en­coun­ters with Rus­sians over the years even though the party’s crit­i­cism of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions cen­tered on his fail­ure to ac­knowl­edge his meet­ings when ques­tioned at his Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing and in writ­ten re­sponses to the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

“I think he was asked a pretty straight­for­ward ques­tion at his com­mit­tee hear­ing and I do think he should re­sign,” said Sen. Bernie San­ders, I-Vt.

Trump also tweeted Fri­day about House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was among the first to call for Ses­sions to re­sign. He linked to a 2010 photo in which Pelosi and other law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing Rep. Mac Thorn­berry, R-Texas, now the chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, are shown meet­ing with Rus­sian of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing then-Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev and Am­bas­sador Sergey Kislyak.

Trump de­manded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Pelosi. She had ini­tially de­nied ever meet­ing Kislyak; her spokes­woman later clar­i­fied that they never had a one-onone meet­ing.

Pelosi then nee­dled Trump by say­ing he didn’t “know the dif­fer­ence” between an of­fi­cial meet­ing pho­tographed by the press and a “se­cret” meet­ing that Ses­sions “lied about un­der oath.”

It is not im­proper for elected of­fi­cials to meet with for­eign diplo­mats.

Ses­sions on Thurs­day said he would re­cuse him­self from Rus­sia probes after it was re­vealed that he had con­versed with Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador twice dur­ing last year’s cam­paign, a con­tra­dic­tion of his tes­ti­mony dur­ing his Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.

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