News Local/State

13th District Candidates React To Trump’s Comments On Russia

Pres. Donald Trump speaking to reporters at the White House

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters prior to a meeting with members of Congress in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday. Both U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis and his Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londigan say that they believe Russia tried to interfere in U-S elections last years. Trump says he meant the opposite when he said in Helsinki that he doesn't see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. Andrew Harnik/AP

In Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, both Republican incumbent Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, have issued statements pushing back against President Trump’s controversial comments during his news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Both Davis and Londrigan say they believe U.S. intelligence agencies that say Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

“There should be absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that Russia meddled in our election,” said Davis in a statement issued a few hours after the president’s news conference in Helsinki, Finland.

The Taylorville Republican called for continued sanctions against Russia, and continued efforts to protect the nation’s voting systems from interference — especially Illinois’ voting system. The State Board of Elections says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed that hackers were able to view Illinois voter registration records, although none were altered.

Davis noted that the most recent federal spending bill to be signed into law provided Illinois with $13.2 million to increase election security, and that Homeland Security officials praised the state for its cooperation and preparation for the upcoming election.

Davis’ statement does not mention President Trump, or his statements about Russian meddling in the last election. But he expressed his disappointment with the president on Tuesday, in an interview with public radio station WGLT. 

Davis said President Trump should have said more to hold Putin accountable for Russia's interference in the election, and should have brought up the recent indictment of Russian military officers by federal prosecutors.

“I think the president tried to clarify his statements today (Tuesday)," said Davis. "But I don’t think he should have needed to clarify them in the first place. He should have come out strong, and said, we trust our intelligence. Where are the indicted Russian military officers, and when are they going to be sent to the United States for prosecution?”

Davis referred to the president's remarks to reporters on Tuesday, in which he said he had misspoken and that he accepted the assessment that Russian interfered in the election. 

Unlike Davis, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan’s statement did not outline any proposals for Congress. Instead, the Springfield Democrat made President Trump the main subject.

Londigran said that in deferring to Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump defied the tradition of past presidents who stood up for democratic values.

“We need leaders who will stand up for our democratic values,” stated Londrigan. “I will.”

(UPDATE: This article has been revised to include additional comments by Rep. Davis in an interview with WGLT - JM 7/17/18))