WASHINGTON, July 18 (APP):The US State Department Wednesday rejected as “absurd” claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin against some American citizens and proposal to question them, as the White House declined or refused to rule out the possibility.
President Putin, during his one-on-one meeting with President Trump had said that his country would allow American officials to question Russians accused of conducting cyber attacks and interfere with US presidential elections, if Moscow was allowed to question some US citizens, including a former US ambassador to Russia they accused of being involved in “illegal activities” in Russia. “What I can tell you is that the overall assertions are absolutely absurd, the fact that they want to question 11 American citizens and the assertions that the Russian Government is making about those American citizens,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert at a press briefing on Wednesday. “We do not stand by those assertions”, she clarified.
She said that the Russian Prosecutor General, who on Wednesday listed American, it wants to question, was well aware that the US has rejected Russian allegations in this regard and that a US court has already refuted the allegations.
Instead, she said that the US would continue to urge Russian authorities to work with the US Department of Justice to pursue those in Russia who perpetrated the fraudulent schemes that Moscow is accusing Americans of.
President Putin said that the accused Americans were working with Russian investor Bill Browder who, he accused of making campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton, the former first lady who lost to President Trump. Browder is accused of using the money he earned in Russia but did not pay taxes.
Putin alleges that Browder took $1.5 billion out of Russia, including $400 million that was contributed towards Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The position taken by the State Department was in contrast to that of the White House, which did not rule out such a possibility.
At a separate press briefing, the White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders did not dismiss Russia’s proposal to provide access to Russian officials to the Americans, in exchange for permission to interrogate 12 Russians that the US Special Council wants to investigate.
“There was some conversation about it, but there wasn’t a commitment made on behalf of the United States…The president will work with his team and we’ll let you know if there’s an announcement on that front,” she said.
Democrats lawmakers criticized the indications that the White House was considering the Russian proposal and asked for legislation that could prevent President Trump from taking such a decision.
They were particularly outraged over the suggestion of allowing the Russian officials to investigate a former US ambassador. “America does not expose our nation’s ambassadors to this kind of harassment. Period. Trump must not even consider this,” Democrat Senator Ed Markey tweeted on Wednesday.