U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week to shed light on the recent meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. While some Republican senators pressed Pompeo for answers, Idaho Senator Jim Risch didn’t ask about the controversial summit.
At the outset of the meeting, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker opened with something of a “best-of” list regarding Putin.
“[He’s] Someone who has violated the most fundamental international norms through his efforts to annex Crimea,” said Corker. “Has interfered with elections, including our own. Has supported the brutal Assad regime in Syria.” Corker went on listing eyebrow-raising actions by the Russians.
In spite of the actions of the Russian leader, President Trump had a two-hour meeting with Putin with no one but translators present. The Wednesday hearing was meant to expose some of the happenings and agreements of the tete-a-tete.
When Risch got his time to ask Pompeo questions, he started with talk of NATO.
“There are very few downsides of NATO, but there is one blemish,” Risch said. “And that is the funding – or the lack thereof that the Europeans have done. First of all, the president is to be commended for underscoring this as only he can do in his unique way.”
The Idaho senator asked about deterrence and other takeaways from a recent NATO summit. At one point during his time, Risch described NATO allies’ defense contributions as “paying their bills.”
Risch’s second question to Pompeo was about internal strife in Iran. At the end of Risch’s time, Senator Corker interjected and clarified that “paying their bills” is something of a mischaracterization. He had Pompeo emphasize NATO partners are not paying bills to the U.S.
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