Trump’s actions outreach efforts to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, including an invitation to the White House, drew stark warnings from both Republicans and Democrats. But Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) recently said he had no problem with the invitation.
In a mid-July summit in Helsinki, Trump sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies regarding criminal hacking activity during the 2016 election. CNN described it as “an unprecedented refusal by a US president to believe his own intelligence agencies over the word of a foreign adversary.”
Trump’s actions were widely condemned, with even Fox News hosts calling his behavior “disgusting” and “throwing your own people and country under the bus.”
About a week after these events took place, Knight and Katie Hill, the Democratic candidate challenging Knight, responded to questions from the Santa Clarita Gazette about Trump’s meeting with Putin and his subsequent actions.
When asked about Trump’s invitation to Putin to come to the White House, “Knight said he has no problem having any president meet with any other world leader.” Knight said a meeting should be “done right” and Trump should be clear with Putin that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, even though Trump has proven he absolutely won’t do that.
Russian criminal activities are not limited to the 2016 election. After the interview with the Gazette took place, the Daily Beast exposed Russian hacking attempts against Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democratic Senator from Missouri who is facing a tough re-election fight in 2018. In her statement about the hacking, McCaskill reiterated, “I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.”
Yet Knight says no problem with Trump inviting a “thug and a bully,” and one who is actively engaging in criminal activity attacking the foundations of American democracy, to pal around with Trump at the White House. Even Trump’s own director of National Intelligence second-guessed Trump’s invitation to Putin.
Hill staked out different ground, opposing the symbolism of opening the doors of the White House to a vicious dictator.
“What does that tell you? (Trump’s) willing to ignore blatant attacks on our democracy,” Hill said. “Trump’s actions have put us in a position of weakness across the globe.”
Knight, who supports the Trump agenda 99 percent of the time, did muster some critique of Trump in his interview with the Gazette, calling Trump’s actions with Putin in Helsinki “weak.” This was after he tried avoided rebuking Trump directly following the meeting.
Hill, running in a district Hillary Clinton won in 2016, spoke out more forcefully. When asked about her overall reaction to Trump’s meeting, Hill called the meeting and press conference, “one of the most embarrassing moments in modern American history.”
“We shouldn’t be kowtowing to a dictator,” Hill said. “It’s embarrassing and scary at the same time.”
Knight, on the other hand, has no problem with it.