Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., took aim at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Friday and called it a "dereliction of duty" for President Trump and Tillerson to give "equal credence" to American and Russian claims over the latter's attempted meddling in the 2016 election.
In a statement, Schumer said Tillerson's decision to leave the issue "unresolved" is "disgraceful," although Tillerson disputed that characterization by claiming that the administration is dismissing the issue.
"President Trump had an obligation to bring up Russia's interference in our election with Putin, but he has an equal obligation to take the word of our intelligence community rather than that of the Russian president," Schumer said.
"For Secretary Tillerson to say that this issue will remain unresolved is disgraceful. To give equal credence to the findings of the American intelligence community and the assertion by Mr. Putin is a grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia to further interfere in our elections in the future," he continued.
"Working to compromise the integrity of our election process cannot and should not be an area where 'agree to disagree' is an acceptable conclusion," Schumer said. Congress and Americans of all political persuasions and parties should do all they can to increase sanctions on Russia and prevent the reduction of any sanctions by the executive branch."
The top Senate Democrat's comments came hours after Trump's first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Germany, where the two discussed the attempts by Russia to interfere in the election, North Korea and the Syrian conflict. The meeting was supposed to last only 30 minutes, but ended up lasting 2 hours and 15 minutes.
"The Russians have asked for proof and evidence," Tillerson told reporters after the meeting. "I'll leave that to the intelligence community to address the answer to that question. And again, I think the president, at this point, he pressed him and then felt like at this point let's talk about how do we go forward.
"And I think that was the right place to spend our time, rather than spending a lot of time having a disagreement that everybody knows we have a disagreement," he said.