Trump’s Russian summit was ‘missed opportunity,’ says Moran; other members of Kansas delegation offer more direct criticism

photo by: Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shake hands at the conclusion of their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

TOPEKA — Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran says President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “missed opportunity” to press for “better behavior” from Russia.

Moran said during a Fox News interview Tuesday that the summit in Helsinki gave Trump a chance to publicly show solidarity with Europe and NATO and to tell Putin that Russian meddling in U.S. and European elections will not be tolerated.

But the Kansas Republican also said he thinks Trump has been strong in dealing with Russia and has not backed off sanctions on that nation. Moran also said he believes Trump sees Russia as an adversary and may have delivered tough messages in private.

Moran visited Russia with other senators earlier this month and faced criticism for being there on the Fourth of July.

Meanwhile, Kansas’ other U.S. senator, Republican Pat Roberts, called Russia a “dangerous adversary” Monday on Twitter and said, “Russia remains a threat to our national security. Our Intelligence Community has proven Russia attempted to interfere with our elections. We have to remain vigilant.”

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Lawrence, had a blunter response.

When asked if it was appropriate for Trump to openly contradict U.S. intelligence services about Russian meddling in U.S. elections, a spokesman for the congresswoman said simply: “No.” Jenkins also referred the reporter to a video of the late conservative William F. Buckley Jr. berating the notion that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were equally to blame for the strained relations between the two countries.

— Journal-World reporter Peter Hancock contributed to this report.

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