WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – A phone call from President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin has sparked controversy in Washington, D.C.
The call came at a time when the country’s top intelligence leaders have acknowledged that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election and warned that they could strike again this year.
“The threat of interference remains and we recognize that 2018 midterm and future elections are clearly potential targets for Russian hacking attempts,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson.
Lawmakers say the Trump administration needs to have a tougher plan in place to protect the integrity of the U.S. elections. The also criticized the president for not bringing up the issue during his call to Putin on Monday.
“The fact that the President did not even bring up the topic of our election security when he called Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his “victory” in a pre-cooked election, is extremely troubling,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA.
The president also did not bring up the assassination attempt of a former Russian spy in Britain which intelligence officials say was carried out by Russia. The U.S. is considering expelling some Russian diplomats over the issue.
According to leaks from within the administration, Trump ignored warnings from his own staff not to congratulate Putin on his election win which the State Department said restricted fundamental freedoms.
“When I look at a Russian election what I see is a lack of credibility in tallying the results,” said Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.
But not all of the criticisms were aimed at the president.
“I don’t like what he did. But I really hate that’s there’s someone in his inner circle that’s willing to leak this stuff. If you don’t like working for the president you should resign your job,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL.
The president has said that he plans to have a face to face meeting with Putin sometime in the future.