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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Republican senators reject Trump's blaming Congress for Russia rift

Donald Trump said relations with Russia were at an 'all-time' and 'dangerous' low (Evan Vucci/AP)
Donald Trump said relations with Russia were at an 'all-time' and 'dangerous' low (Evan Vucci/AP)

Republican senators have said it is wrong for the US president to blame Congress for deteriorating relations with Russia.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he was shocked at a tweet by Donald Trump that said "you can blame Congress" for a relationship "at an all-time" and "dangerous" low.

But many Republicans blame Russian president Vladimir Putin for the growing tensions.

Maine Senator Susan Collins cited Russia's actions in Ukraine and Syria and its suspected interference in the presidential election.

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis said relations with Russia are bad "because they've done bad things".

And Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said the two nations' relationship began deteriorating with the Russian Revolution of 1917, which led to Communist rule. Mr Shelby said: "I don't see how it's Congress' fault."

Earlier, t wo members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee moved to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Mr Trump, putting forth new legislation that aims to ensure the integrity of current and future independent investigations.

Mr Tillis and Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said they introduced legislation letting any special counsel for the Department of Justice challenge his or her removal in court.

A three-judge panel would review the dismissal within 14 days of the challenge.

The bill would apply retroactively to May 17 2017 - the day Mr Mueller was appointed by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties between Russia and Mr Trump's presidential campaign.

"This is something that lives long beyond this" situation involving Mr Mueller, Mr Tillis told reporters. "And I think it's also something that begins to re-establish the reputation for independence in the Department of Justice."

AP

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