Local Lawmakers: Trump Needs To Be Tougher On Putin

President Donald Trump speaks with mayors from across the country during a special session held at the White House on Jan. 24. Jackson Mayor Michael Reina was among the mayors in attendance for the event. (Photo courtesy Mayor Michael Reina)

OCEAN COUNTY – Local leaders stated that President Donald Trump needs to be tough on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Just days ago, our nation’s Department of Justice indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for meddling in the 2016 election. Clean and fair elections are the bedrock of our more than 200-year-old democracy. The United States, especially the President, should take any foreign government’s attempt to influence election results as a threat to our democracy itself,” said Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-3rd).

“I take issue with President Trump blaming the state of our relationship on our supposed ‘foolishness and stupidity.’ Our relationship with Russia is strained because of Vladimir Putin’s actions. He has invaded his neighbors, attacked America’s allies, and interfered with our elections and the elections of our closest allies. Putin is a corrupt, murderous thug and cannot be trusted. He is a threat to global security, and we need to remind our friends and our foes that the United States stands strongly opposed to this autocratic kleptocrat,” MacArthur continued.

Speaking on Fox News, Congressman Chris Smith (R-4th) described how foreign powers are often trying to hack into government computers.

“I do think we have to be very aggressive with the Russians, and say ‘We want full accountability,’” he said.

He suggested that the 12 officers should be “red noticed,” so that any time they travel, they would be flagged and would be intercepted.

Smith said he and other American lawmakers met with Russian leaders, and “pressed hard” on Russia’s crimes in relation to Crimea, the Ukraine, and human trafficking.

When he asked about meddling in the elections, the Russians denied it. However, Pyotr Tolstoy, the vice speaker of the Duma (Russian Congress), talked about the chaos that 13 hackers can do. Interestingly, he said 13 instead of 12, Smith noted. Tolstoy reportedly told him: “What happens if we had 26 hackers?”

Smith said he thinks Trump will heed warnings to be strong on Russia.

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Chris Lundy is News Editor at Micromedia. He has covered Ocean County news and features in various publications since 2003. Lundy worked for Gannett with articles in The Beacon, Observer and Asbury Park Press. He's also written for the Community Connection, Patch and ShoreBeat.