US President Donald Trump appears to be backing away from the idea of working with Russia to create a “cyber security unit” to guard against election hacking.
Trump tweeted Sunday morning about discussing such a unit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yet it’s Russia that US intelligence officials blame for meddling in last year’s election.
Three Republican senators – Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona and Mario Rubio of Florida – immediately criticised the idea, saying Moscow could not be trusted after its alleged meddling in the 2016 US election, and Trump appeared to backtrack in a tweet later on Sunday.
Graham had told NBC’s Meet the Press that working with Russia on cybersecurity was “not the dumbest idea I have ever heard but it’s pretty close,” saying that Trump’s apparent willingness to “forgive and forget” stiffened his resolve to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Russia.
Rubio, who contested the 2016 Republican primaries against Trump, criticised the idea in a series of tweets that compared it to working with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, on a chemical weapons unit.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, earlier defended the move, arguing that working with Russia on cybersecurity “doesn’t mean we ever trust Russia”.