President Donald Trump might not be willing to fully accept allegations that Russia interfered in last year’s presidential election, but Rep. Ruben Gallego is hoping that Congress is.
The Arizona Democrat said in an interview Friday that he is seeking to force a House vote next week endorsing the January assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia waged a covert campaign, using hacking and propaganda, to damage Hillary Clinton and sway the election toward Trump.
Gallego is putting forward an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act — a must-pass annual measure expected to come to the House floor as soon as next Wednesday — stating that Congress backs the intelligence community’s conclusions.
“What we’re trying to do is reinforce the intelligence community’s assessment that there was interference in the 2016 elections,” Gallego said. He added that he considered his proposal important because of Trump’s lack of clarity on the issue, which is currently in the global spotlight.
The president met on Friday with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the G20 summit in Germany, where Trump "pressed" Putin on the matter during a "robust and lengthy exchange," according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emerged from the meeting with a conflicting story, saying Trump had accepted Putin’s assertion that Russia did not meddle in the election, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier this week, Trump declined to categorically state that Russia interfered, first explaining that Russia probably meddled in the election but then adding: "Nobody really knows for sure."
Gallego’s amendment would force Republicans to take a clear stand on the issue, potentially defying a president of their own party.
But his provision is not guaranteed a vote.
The House Rules Committee is meeting next week to decide which NDAA amendments — hundreds have been proposed so far — will be considered in order for debate. The Rules panel in the past has often discarded amendments viewed as contentious.
Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.