Over the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed on Twitter that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed the possibility of the two countries creating a cybersecurity unit.
Reuters, citing President Donald Trump’s tweets, reported news that the President said it is time to work with Russia. The site also pointed to the ceasefire deal for southwest Syria that came after Presidents Trump and Putin met in Europe last week as evidence.
“Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that election hacking, and many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” President Trump said following their talks at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, reported Reuters.
What’s more, President Trump tweeted that he brought up claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election during the meeting.
“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election," said President Trump. "He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion ... We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”
The idea of creating a cybersecurity unit with Russia was quickly criticized by some lawmakers, with Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida saying Putin can’t be trusted. "Partnering with Putin on a 'Cyber Security Unit' is akin to partnering with [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad on a 'Chemical Weapons Unit,'" Rubio said, according to Reuters.
"Partnering with Putin on a 'Cyber Security Unit' is akin to partnering with [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad on a 'Chemical Weapons Unit,'" Rubio said, according to Reuters.
"It's not the dumbest idea I have ever heard, but it's pretty close," said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
Democrats also commented on the news.
"This is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary," said Ash Carter, former U.S. defense secretary until the end of President Barack Obama's administration in January.
Allegations of Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election are currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller as well as other lawmakers via various inquiries. Lawmakers want to know if Russia interfered in the election and colluded with Trump’s campaign. The inquiries focus solely on Russian interference and not that of other countries.
Facing the critiques, the Trump administration seems to have backed down from the cyber security unit idea. President Trump tweeted early on Sunday that he did not think it could happen:
"The fact that President Putin and I discussed a cyber security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't."
The tweet came after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had already begun defending the plan.
Mnuchin said on Saturday that Presidents Trump and Putin had agreed to create "a cyber unit to make sure that there was absolutely no interference whatsoever, that they would work on cyber security together."