GOP South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said Sunday that President Donald Trump has done more to hold Russia accountable for its actions than the Obama administration ever did.
“I think he’s done a hell of a lot better job than President Obama did,” Gowdy said on “Fox News Sunday” in response to a question about whether Trump is standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Gowdy elaborated on his statement, noting that former President Barack Obama bent over backward to reset relations with Russia, even after Putin authorized the use of force in 2008 to invade Georgia. The South Carolina congressman also dinged Obama and the Democrats for laughing off former Gov. Mitt Romney’s suggestion in 2012 that Russia is a threat.
“It wasn’t Donald Trump who laughed when Mitt Romney said Russia was our number one geopolitical enemy and it wasn’t President Trump who handed that awkward reset button to the Russians and it wasn’t President Trump who said on a hot mic, ‘I’ll have more flexibility in the second term.’ All of that was Obama,” Gowdy said.
The Obama administration talked extensively about “pressing” a symbolic reset button to renew relations with Russia. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even greeted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2009 with a little green box.
“I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is: ‘We want to reset our relationship, and so we will do it together,’” Clinton told Lavrov as he opened the gift.
Things have changed since 2009. Democrats are now leading investigations into Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. election. They are also criticizing Trump for not punishing Putin for allegedly attacking the country’s democratic institutions.
Their criticisms were muted after Trump sanctioned 19 Russian nationals on March 15 for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The sanctions will also target Russian nationals and entities for cyber attacks on the U.S. energy grid along with other U.S. based companies and persons.
Officials stressed that the announced sanctions are not the only actions the U.S. government will take in response to Russian interference. The sanctions come as the U.S. joined the heads of European security agencies in calling out Russia for a nerve agent attack in the U.K.