Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s advisers should consider leaving the White House if Trump continues to publicly disparage the nation’s intelligence community and cast doubt on the evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
“The president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to re-evaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration,” Gowdy said on Fox News Sunday, referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley. “But the disconnect cannot continue. The evidence is overwhelming and the president needs to say that and act like it.”
Trump said Monday at a press conference during his Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he didn’t see why Russia would be involved with election interference. He walked back that statement a day later, saying he’d meant to say he didn’t see why Russia wouldn’t be involved.
But Gowdy said his issues with Trump’s performance went beyond that one line. Trump, in his press conference comments, also gave credence to Putin’s denials of Russian efforts to subvert U.S. politics and did not stand up the contrary findings of his administration’s top intelligence officials.
“The president missed, I think, a really good opportunity to distinguish the United States from any other country but especially from Russia,” Gowdy said.
Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has previously backed the U.S. intelligence community’s findings on Russia and actions taken by the FBI in its investigations of the matter.
“There is no way you can listen to the evidence and not conclude, not that the Democrats were the victims, but the United States of America were the victims. We were the victims of what Russia did in 2016,” he said on Sunday.
“It ought to be a source of unity and rallying around the fact that we are never going to allow this to happen again and we’re going to punish those who try to do it,” Gowdy said. “And there was this equivocation [by Trump] during the press conference. I’m glad [Trump] corrected it. But when you’re the leader of the free world, every syllable matters, and you really shouldn’t be having to correct it when you’re the leader of the free world.”