WASHINGTON - Democratic legislators called on President Donald Trump to take a tougher stance towards Russia following remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who suggested in an interview over the weekend that perhaps it was "Jews" who stood behind Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Putin said in an interview with NBC News that perhaps the people responsible for Russia's interference in the election "are not even Russian. Maybe they're Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or a Green Card."
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said in response to the interview: "Repulsive Putin remark deserves to be denounced, soundly and promptly, by world leaders. Why is Trump silent? Intolerance is intolerable."
Meanwhile, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) said that the remarks highlighted Trump's refusal to sign into law the tough sanctions that the U.S. Congress approved against Russia last year in retaliation to its election meddling.
"Putin suggests that Russian attacks on US elections may have been made by 'Jews, just with Russian citizenship.' This man is not our friend and the Trump administration needs to move on the sanctions Congress passed," Beyer said on Saturday.
The American Jewish Committee took a more cautious approach, stating that "Putin suggesting that Russian Federation minorities, be they Ukrainian, Tatar, or Jewish, were behind U.S. election meddling is eerily reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He should clarify his comments at the earliest opportunity."
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Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, also criticized the Russian president for his controversial statement. "It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that have plagued his country for hundreds of years, with a comment that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'"
"We live in a moment when anti-Semitic violence is on the rise and words can have profound consequences, particularly when spoken by public figures or elected officials like President Putin," Greenblatt continued. "We hope he swiftly clarifies his words before they cause further damage to those communities he has singled out.
A poll that was released last week, prior to Putin's statement, showed that a majority of Americans are worried about future Russian aggression against the U.S. Most are also not convinced that Trump is doing enough to address the problem.
The poll was conducted by John McLaughlin, a veteran political pollster affiliated with the Republican party, who has advised Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu in the past. According to its results, 52% of the respondents were "not convinced" that Trump was doing enough to protect the U.S. and its allies from Russia, and want him to do more on the subject. Only 34.5% believe Trump is doing enough on the subject.
The poll also showed that just over 60% of American are worried of more attacks by Russia against the United States and its allies, in light of Russia's conduct in recent years. 72% of the respondents said they believe Russia poses "a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States, our NATO allies in Europe, and our Mideast allies, such as Israel."
The poll was ordered by Joel Rosenberg, an author and Evangelical activist residing in Jerusalem, who recently published a new political thriller on U.S-Russia relations calls "The Kremlin Conspiracy." The poll showed that even among Evangelical Christians, who are usually very highly supportive of Trump, no less than 39% said they are not convinced Trump understands the threat posed by Russia, while only 46% said they were convinced that he does.