WASHINGTON (AP) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she wants to know what leverage the Russians have over President Donald Trump, but wouldn’t say whether she’d favor hearings on the question should Democrats take control of the House next year.
Her comments highlighted Democratic leaders’ balancing act approaching November elections in which they hope to win a House majority.
Some of the party’s most liberal members want to aggressively attack Trump to mobilize progressive voters. Others prefer a more measured approach, concerned that overly focusing on the polarizing president could alienate moderates in suburban swing districts Democrats will need to win to capture House control.
Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters that when Trump meets next Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, she wants the president to press Putin on Russian interference in U.S. elections and extract “something more than, ‘I asked him, he said no and that was that.'”
She also criticized Republicans who control Congress for not holding pushing hard enough to learn what happened in 2016, when U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russians interfered in the elections to help Trump.
Pelosi then asked, “What do the Russians have on Donald Trump, politically, financially and personally?”
She told reporters that there’s “no way to explain the disrespect” the president showed NATO leaders at summit meetings in Europe this week or “the lack of understanding” he’s shown of the threat Russia poses.
Asked directly if she’d hold hearings on any Russian clout over Trump, Pelosi said, “I’m not talking about that. I’m just wanting, ready to win the election.” She said she wanted Democrats to focus on issues like health care and infrastructure and making sure Russian interference in U.S. elections doesn’t happen again.
In a remarkable confrontation at summit meetings in Brussels this week, Trump criticized NATO members for not contributing enough money to the organization and questioned the need for the alliance’s existence. Trump later said the U.S. commitment to NATO “remains very strong.” The organization was established after World War II as a bulwark against expansion by the Soviet Union.
Trump meets Monday with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
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