White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded Wednesday to questions about a claim Russian President Vladimir Putin made about millions of dollars being illegally funneled out of Russia into the Clinton campaign.
Here’s what Putin said in Helsinki
Putin offered that they might allow Mueller to interview those Russian officials that were indicted for meddling in the U.S. election, but on the condition that U.S. citizens and officials be made to answer Russian investigators as well.
“This kind of effort should be a mutual one,” Putin said. “Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate and that they would question officials including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States, whom we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.”
“For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case,” he continued. “Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over one and a half billion dollars in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States and yet the money escaped the country, they were transferred to the United States.”
“They sent a huge amount of money – 400 million – as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton,” he continued.
President Trump called the proposal from Putin “an interesting idea,” and “an incredible offer.”
Later, Putin clarified that it was not $400 million, but rather $400,000.
“We’ll let you know”
On Wednesday, Sarah Sanders wouldn’t say that the Trump administration was opposed to the idea of U.S. citizens and officials, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, being interrogated by Russian officials.
“There was some conversation about it, but there wasn’t a commitment made on behalf of the United States,” Sanders said at Wednesday’s press briefing. “The president will work with his team and we’ll let you know if there’s an announcement on that front.”
However, the State Department was far more forceful in declaring the proposal as absolutely out of the question.
“What I can tell you is that the overall assertions are absolutely absurd — the fact that they want to question 11 American citizens and the assertions that the Russian Government is making about those American citizens,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
“We do not stand by those assertions,” she added.
“Swiftly make you an ex-president”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) was even more forceful in threatening the president if the administration agrees with Putin’s proposal.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) July 18, 2018
“Take this to the bank, [President Trump,] you turn over former U.S. Ambassador @McFaul to Putin,” Swalwell said, “you can count on me and millions others to swiftly make you an ex-president.”
Here’s more on the Putin proposal: