One day after a bipartisan effort to introduce legislation that would prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally lifting sanctions on Russia, a group of nine GOP senators wrote a letter urging the president to remain "tough-minded" on Moscow.
The letter pushed for condemnation of Russian aggression in Ukraine, and advocated for tough action on Syria and in the realm of cybersecurity, both areas where Russia has made news for either aggressive military or covert action.
U.S. legislators on both sides of the aisle have expressed worry that Trump has taken a too-conciliatory approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin, praising him as a great leader and excusing Russian violence by declaring the U.S. guilty of extrajudicial killings.
The Highest ranking Senator to sign the letter was John Cornyn (R-TX). The senators wrote they favor cooperation with Moscow but urged keeping sanctions against Russia imposed following their annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine. The lawmakers further tried to persuade the president to send Ukraine weapons to defend itself and to maintain a healthy philosophical distance from Putin.
"However, while we should seek common ground with Russia in the areas of mutual interest, we must never pursue cooperation with Russia at the expense of our fundamental interests of defending our allies and promoting our values," they wrote.
The senators also urged Trump not to cooperate with Putin in Syria "until Moscow halts its military operations that have caused immense damage and human suffering and ceases support for the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad."
Besides Cornyn, the letter was signed by Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.), Jim Inhofe (OK), Todd Young (IN), Rob Portman (OH), Mike Rounds (SD), Joni Ernst (IA), Susan Collins (ME) and Lindsey Graham (SC).