Rep. Pascrell Leads Letter to President Trump In Advance of Meeting with President Putin
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), led 12 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives in a letter urging President Trump to confront the Russian President on the following transgressions around the world: 1) Russia’s violations of international law and of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; 2) Russia’s support for the Assad regime in the brutal war in Syria; and 3) Russia’s cyber-attacks on the United States to influence our elections and systematically sow disinformation in the United States. The letter also urges President Trump not to give President Putin any concessions on sanctions relief.
Text of the letter and signors below:
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump:
In light of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s statements that you have “no specific agenda,”  we write to offer you some important topics for discussion in advance of your first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg. Given the numerous destabilizing actions Russia has taken here in the U.S. and across the globe, we believe this meeting warrants a specific agenda to ensure that Russia will not be emboldened to continue on its current course.
This high stakes meeting will present the opportunity to confront the Russian President on the following transgressions around the world: 1) Russia’s violations of international law and of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; 2) Russia’s support for the Assad regime in the brutal war in Syria; and 3) Russia’s cyber-attacks on the United States to influence our elections and systematically sow disinformation in the United States. It is imperative that you use this meeting to confront President Putin on these critical issues.
Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, over 10,000 people have been killed, 20,000 people have been wounded, and two million people have been internally displaced, according to estimates by the United Nations. Further, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has concluded there were nearly 300,000 ceasefire violations in 2016. In recent months these violations have only worsened the instability in the region due to an escalation of violence by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. This demonstrates a critical need for you to reiterate the importance of Russia complying with the Minsk Agreement to President Putin.
In Syria, United Nations Commission of Inquiry (UNCI) has said the Syrian government and allied Russian forces have engaged in tactics that amount to the war crime of indiscriminate attacks. This includes the indiscriminate bombing of densely populated civilian areas in Aleppo with aerial bombs, air-to-surface rockets, cluster munitions, incendiary bombs, barrel bombs, and toxic chlorine bombs. According to the UNCI, the Syrian government planned and carried out an air strike that killed 14 aid workers. Further, an estimated 400,000 people are living under siege in areas across Syria, according to the United Nations. Deliberate attacks on humanitarian relief personnel, denial of humanitarian aid, and attacking civilians are all war crimes. We urge you to confront President Putin about Russia’s continued support for the Assad regime in Syria to ensure he understands the U.S.’s commitment to human rights and the rule of international law.
Finally, we now know Russia’s interference in our elections, which has been confirmed unanimously by the U.S. intelligence community in a declassified report, poses a problem that goes far beyond foreign policy and strikes at the core of our democracy. As the report stated, “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.” It was their unanimous determination that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” Russia’s goals to undermine public faith in our democratic process have been clear. In order to ensure Russia does not employ the same tactics in future efforts here in the U.S. or worldwide, including against U.S. allies and their election processes, we urge you to confront President Putin directly about Russia’s attack on our democracy.
We urge you to work with Congress in holding Russia accountable for its aggression in Ukraine and Syria, and for interfering in our elections. We believe it critically important that you do not give President Putin any concessions on sanctions relief. We urge you to take a strong position on these important issues with President Putin during your meeting with him on Friday.
We look forward to working with you to ensure Russia is held accountable and understanding the outcome of your meeting upon your return.
Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ–09)
Michael E. Capuano (MA–07)
Steve Cohen (TN–09)
Colleen Hanabusa (HI–01)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX–18)
Marcy Kaptur (OH–09)
Betty McCollum (MN–04)
James P. McGovern (MA–02)
Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ–06)
Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ–10)
Jamie Raskin (MD–08)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH–01)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ–12)