WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) today joined WDEL to discuss the Helsinki summit and the opioid crisis.
“My concern is that before President Trump met with President Putin and afterwards, he was briefed by his secretary of state, national security adviser, secretary of defense, not to give an inch in terms of conceding the idea that maybe Russia did not interfere in our 2016 election, given that our entire intelligence community unanimously continues to confirm that Russia attacked the United States by inserting ourselves into our last election,” said Senator Coons. “The president's press conference right after the summit, where he seemed to waver, seemed to be weak on this point, was gravely concerning to President Trump's own senior leaders, his director of national intelligence.”
Full audio available here.
Excerpts from the interview:
Sen. Coons on the Helsinki summit: Well Peter, that's the first thing. What took place at the Helsinki summit? Why was it a good idea for our president to have a two-hour closed-door meeting without anyone there to take notes? My concern is that before President Trump met with President Putin and afterwards, he was briefed by his secretary of state, national security adviser, secretary of defense, not to give an inch in terms of conceding the idea that maybe Russia did not interfere in our 2016 election, given that our entire intelligence community unanimously continues to confirm that Russia attacked the United States by inserting ourselves into our last election. The president's press conference right after the summit, where he seemed to waver, seemed to be weak on this point, was gravely concerning to President Trump's own senior leaders, his director of national intelligence. The other thing, Peter, I want to make sure we talk about is North Korea. What was accomplished in that Singapore one-day meeting with Kim Jong Un? Has there been any progress toward the pledges they made and what sort of harms have we suffered, our allies suffered, by unilaterally giving up valuable military exercises with South Korea and Japan?
More on Russia: That's right, Peter. One of the predictable challenges is that Russia has now, on several occasions, said that President Trump made certain commitments, made commitments about the nuclear agreements we have, INF, ENEC, START, made commitments or had conversations about troops and where they're serving, explored the conversations about potentially exposing Americans and American diplomats to interrogation by the Russians. Because there was no one present, other than President Trump and his translator, the State Department in particular, but also the Department of Defense, has had to scramble to be able to respond to these suggestions by the Russians, because the secretaries of defense and state don't know what was discussed and didn't get debriefing right after the summit.
More on Putin: Absolutely not. President Putin is one of the most aggressive adversaries of the United States. And I think the good news is that on a bipartisan basis Speaker Ryan in the House, several leaders in the Senate, have been clear-eyed in saying that Putin attacked the United States in our 2016 election, invaded and occupied its neighboring country, Ukraine. The United States and Russia signed an agreement that Ukraine's borders would be respected, which Russia has blatantly violated. And they continue to support the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which has massacred hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Why we would let someone who has so blatantly violated democracy and human rights, has disrespect, who devalues what the United States has long-stood for, why we would give him the privilege of the opportunity to speak to a joint session of Congress until President Putin acknowledges their actions against the United States and takes action to address it? I can't imagine.
Sen. Coons on the opioid crisis: One of the ways that American families are suffering through this opioid crisis is through prescription medication that well-meaning family members, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, leave in their medicine cabinets, not realizing that they may have another family member who is struggling with opioid addiction. One of the things that makes it easier for us to restrict access to prescription opioids is, for folks who are listening, to go through their medicine cabinets and get rid of old or unused or unneeded opioids. So, if you happen to have a hip replacement or a knee replacement or back surgery and you've got a prescription, let’s say for Percocet, and you didn't use it all? Please make sure you get rid of it. You can't just throw these things just down the sink. Then it ends up in a water supply. You shouldn't just throw them in the trash. You should take them to a Walgreens, they have a whole series of kiosks in Walgreens throughout our area where you can safely dispose of them. This is a small but very real, and important thing that we can do to try and address the many ways in which Delawareans are suffering from the opioid epidemic. Three hundred and forty-five people died in Delaware last year of overdoses, that's up 12 percent from the year before. We're doing everything we can. Federally, we're beginning to deliver significant resources for treatment, for intervention, for law enforcement, but I think this is a great public-private partnership and I appreciate that Walgreens has stepped up to make sure that they have installed more of these. They have 600 safe medication disposal kiosks in 45 states and I'm grateful they're adding one more to our state of Delaware.