MELBOURNE, Fla. – Rep. Bill Posey offered his support to President Donald Trump in the wake of a summit appearance with Russian leader Vladimir Putin that earned Trump condemnation from some Republican leaders for appearing to side with the Russian rather than his own intelligence agencies.
While saying there he believes "there probably was meddling," the Republican congressman from Rockledge said he hopes the talks between Trump and Putin lead to better relationships between the two leaders and their countries.
"There was a time in modern history where it was understood that international leaders who didn't see eye to eye could speak to each other about it and I hope we're going to get back to that point," Posey said Monday.
"Our countries won't live in peace if our leaders can't agree to live in peace."
Here's Posey's take on several related topics:
On whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election
“I believe there probably was Russian meddling,” Posey said. “Of course, we know that Obama meddled in the (2015) re-election of (Benjamin) Netanyahu; no secret about it. I think the U.S. has probably been involved in one way or another in every election campaign on this globe in the past 50 years. If we meddle in the campaigns of our friends, our closest allies in the Middle East, how can we be shocked that someone who's not our friend would meddle in ours?”
On Speaker Paul Ryan's statement
Ryan talked about their being “no question” of Russian meddling, including the words, “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
"I'm not sure where the meddling goes, which direction it goes,” Posey said. “If we're going to have any improved relationship with Russia, obviously, there cannot be any future meddling. And they have indicted some people for meddling.
"It will be interesting to see how that plays out; if they're going to be a direct link to Putin, if there's going to be a direct link to another mob. Even (Rod) Rosenstein said there's no evidence of American involvement in Friday's indictments. There was nothing in the indictment that suggested that hacking changed the election results ... I don't know how much longer we can beat that dead horse."
Chemical weapons attacks by Russia?
There were questions about the possibility of chemical weapons attacks on U.K. soil being committed by Russia.
"I don't think that's been made clear by anybody ... we know that the government in Russia is not stable, that there's a lot of corruption there," Posey said.
“We know they've got hackers over there who steal from America. That's gone on for decades ... there are profiteers over there who don't run as tight a ship as we do. Saying that ‘Russians did something’ does not necessarily mean it was done at the direction of the Putin or the Russian government. There are numerous mobs there and it is possible they could independently carry out such atrocities without the direction, knowledge or consent of Putin or the Russian government. ... We don't have all the facts and nobody, without all the facts, should make such inflammatory and incendiary remarks. There’s just so much not known. You just can't draw conclusions that are unsubstantiated and sell them as gospel."
On the U.S. intelligence community
“I have as much faith (in them) as I had before. Our intelligence community was damaged substantially under the last administration but I don’t think they’ve gotten any worse. I obviously had questions about the head of the FBI and that’s playing out now.”
What Posey would like to see come out of the talks between Trump and Putin
"I'd like to see the two of them maintain open lines of communication, where they can seriously discuss problems between our two countries, instead of doing it in the media, or through intermediaries, or through innuendo," Posey said. "Remember, we had members of Russian mobs stealing from Americans long before Putin came to power. This is nothing new ... we've had a lot of the Russian mobsters who do not like the United States and do everything they can to plunder."
Posey said that according to the press conference, "it sounds like they discussed some really good, legitimate problems."
"I'm sure they talked about Russian interference in the elections; spent a great deal of time talking about that. They discussed nuclear proliferation and the denuclearization of North Korea, which is really, really important. I hope they can be in the same hymnal, in the same chapter and verse, on that," he said.
"They talked about the radical Islamic terrorism and how we've worked together to protect both our citizens. They tipped us off about the bombers at Boston, if you recall, and our FBI did not follow up on the leads. Had they done that, we wouldn't have had that carnage in the Boston Marathon.
"They talked about halting nuclear Iran, which could halt a third world war beginning in the Middle East. They talked about the crisis in Syria; how complicated it is, and it is really serious. They talked about a campaign against ISIS, so they'll continue to work together on this thing, probably through their national security councils. I think it's important that they can call up and talk to each other, about issues that can cause America and Russia and the world problems."
Follow Britt Kennerly on Twitter: @bybrittkennerly