- As Delivered -
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks on legislation he introduced with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). The resolution would urge the Trump Administration not to make any policy changes that would benefit Russia’s President Vladimir Putin until the completion of all investigation into Russia’s interference in last year’s elections and ties between the Trump Administration and Russia:
“Thank you, Eric and good afternoon everybody. I’m Eliot Engel. I’m the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I want to thank my friend Eric Swalwell for his leadership in bringing forth this measure, and for all his hard work trying to get to the bottom of Putin’s interference in last year’s election and Russia’s ties to the Trump Administration.
“Eric is certainly one of the rising stars in Congress and I’m pleased to partner with him and work with him on this measure.
“The legislation that we’re introducing today lays out what we know about this issue. It walks us through the history of Trump campaign contacts with Russia, of Putin’s efforts to subvert American democracy, and of the investigations that have sprung up in the wake of this criminal scandal.
“And at the end of that history, it’s clear that there are many more questions than there are answers. We get this constant drip, drip, drip of information, and that’s simply not enough. Putin and his goons attacked the United States. We need to find out exactly what happened, and we need to respond.
“So this resolution says that the President and all those surrounding him should fully cooperate with any investigation into Russia’s interference. And it says until this issue is fully resolved, the United States needs to pump the brakes on any action or change in policy that would benefit Vladimir Putin or his cronies.
“American policy needs to advance American interests, period. With this dark cloud hanging over the Administration, we cannot know for sure what’s motivating the President’s decisions. Frankly, I think the President is far too cozy with Putin. I want to know why. And until we have the answers we need, I would have serious concerns if he started making decisions that played into Putin’s hands.
“This resolution will be sent to my committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I hope we’ll act on it soon. But this is only one piece of the puzzle.
“Mr. Swalwell, along with Ranking Member Cummings, introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act—sponsored by every Democrat in the House—which would establish an independent commission to investigate. A bill I offered with Congressman Connolly of Virginia, which we call the SECURE Our Democracy Act, would impose sanctions to punish anyone who unlawfully interferes with an American election from overseas.
“These three measures taken together would constitute a tough, serious response to Russia’s interference. They would send a message that if you meddle in American elections, you’re going to pay the price. President Trump may like playing footsie with the Russians, but this is not something that obviously benefits the United States.
“All the three bills put together will clear up the doubts, the remaining doubts, about the Trump Administration’s remaining ties to Russia.
“Now, the President says this is all a sham. In that case, he should want this investigation. He should want to clear the air and prove himself right. Our Republican colleagues should want to get this investigation out of the Congress, so that claims of partisanship are no longer an issue.
“So we should act on all three of these measures, and I’ll keep pushing for this action in the Foreign Affairs Committee. I want to thank Mr. Swalwell again. His leadership has been exemplary and I’m very happy to partner with him on this latest effort.
“Thank you very much.”