Democratic leading lawmakers in the House and Senate are stepping up pressure for President Donald Trump to use “all resources available” to extradite 13 Russians charged last month with interfering in the 2016 presidential election following Russian Vladimir Putin’s suggesting the possibility of Jewish involvement.
Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi led their party mates in writing a letter to the White House. The letter reads: “Ensuring these Russian nationals stand trial in the United States is imperative for deterring Russia from future attacks on our democracy and would be a signal to those who seek to meddle with our election that such actions are not without consequences.”
Putin was asked in an interview with NBC News over the weekend about the 13 Russian citizens charged by the special counsel, Robert Mueller who’s looking into the alleged election interference. Putin shot back: “Maybe they are not even Russians but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked. Maybe they have a dual citizenship or a green card. Maybe the U.S. paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either.”
Putin’s comments went viral, and many commentators regarded his remarks as a clear echo of the anti-Semitism that has been associated with Russia’s history since at least the 19th century.
Jewish groups in the U.S. and some Israeli politicians also criticized Putin’s comments for suggesting that Jews might have been behind the alleged hacking attacks on the 2016 Presidential election in the U.S.
Democrats are also calling on Trump to condemn Putin’s comments since they said those were “unacceptable.” They also said that the so-called type of anti-Semitism has been a recent “resurgence among populist, far-right leaders around the world.”
The letter from Democratic lawmakers outlines several steps they are suggesting the Justice and State departments take in forcing the 13 Russians’ extradition, such as pressing Interpol to issue what is effectively an international arrest warrant and using existing diplomatic channels, including raising the issue directly with Putin.
They specified that an Interpol notice for one “can severely restrict a fugitive’s ability to love and travel overseas.”