Cardin, Stabenow criticize Trump budget, weigh in on Russia investigation

“The president’s submitted budget is just not realistic,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “It has no credibility. It’s dangerous.” Photo by Dan Schere

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s submitted budget puts American national security at risk and proposed cuts would affect virtually every development assistance program in the United States

In an interview at a lunch hosted by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center in Washington, Cardin said cuts would include the Nonprofit Security Grant program, which gives money to Jewish institutions for security. The grant program was one of the issues that the OU spent Thursday lobbying for in Congress and at the White House.

“The president’s submitted budget is just not realistic,” he said. “It has no credibility. It’s dangerous.”

The president’s budget would cut funding to the State Department by $37.6 billion, or about 30 percent from last year.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said the cuts were too large.

“I think unfortunately the budget cuts go in exactly the wrong direction, and so we’re working on a bipartisan basis to reject them,” she said after the OU lunch. “When we talk about what we need to do in terms of our relationship with Israel, with other countries, how we’re sharing information, supporting each other’s economies, and here at home, the efforts as it relates to safety, security, funding as well.

In the same interview, Cardin said that the jury is still out on whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions improperly colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. In his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Sessions denied having had any improper Russian connections, despite meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“We still don’t know a lot about his conversations with the president,” Cardin said. “We don’t know a lot of the substance of his contact with the Russian ambassador. So there’s still a lot of unanswered questions.”

Cardin said that fired FBI Director James Comey’s June 8 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee helped him understand how Trump tried to put Comey in a compromising position.  Comey had taken notes during two private meetings with Trump — a fact that caught Cardin’s attention.

“He felt he was not protected by his supervisors and he was right making contemporaneous notes, and now we’ll see where that leads,” Cardin said.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who also attended the lunch, declined to comment on Sessions’ testimony said Comey “did a good job” in his hearing last week.

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