Meanwhile, the White House on Thursday said it was no longer considering an unprecedented proposal that would have seen Russian interrogators question former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and other U.S. citizens—in exchange for allowing special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to interview 12 Russians indicted last week for allegedly hacking the emails of Democrats during the 2016 election. Trump was initially warm to the proposal, proposed by Vladimir Putin, calling it “an incredible offer.” But Trump reversed course Thursday after the Senate voted 98 to 0 for a nonbinding resolution opposing any such deal, and after current and former diplomats rallied to the defense of McFaul, saying Trump’s move would undermine the bedrock principle of diplomatic immunity. The resolution came after Republican leaders barred a vote on two other Russia-related measures. One, proposed by Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders, would have demanded President Trump speak with special counsel Robert Mueller. Another resolution would have backed the finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. That resolution had the support of Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake.
Sen. Jeff Flake: “Mr. President, in his dystopian novel '1984,' George Orwell wrote, quote, 'The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their most essential—most final, essential command,' unquote. Well, we saw earlier this week in Helsinki what was truly an Orwellian moment.”