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Senator scorches Trump official for dismissing Russian nuclear threat

Another day, another Trump official refusing basic oversight.

By Oliver Willis - May 15, 2019

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) blasted a Trump administration official after she refused to directly answer his question about the danger posed to Americans by Russian nuclear weapons.

The exchange occurred on Wednesday during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Menendez questioned Andrea Thompson, the current undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs (and a former Pence adviser), on what could happen if the New START treaty between the United States and Russia expires.

The treaty, signed in 2010, controls the terms of nuclear weapon reduction for both nations. Trump has been making moves that could terminate the agreement, reversing decades of progress in averting a nuclear showdown. Democratic senators have been trying to pass an extension to the treaty.

“If New START expires, could Russia target the United States with hundreds or perhaps even thousands of additional nuclear warheads?” Menendez asked.

“That’s a good question for Russia, Senator,” Thompson replied.

“No, that’s a good question for you,” Menedez said. “You know, this disdain that the State Department has when they come here, I don’t appreciate it. I’m asking for a legitimate question with answers so that I can make policy decisions. I’m not asking Russia about our national defense, I’m asking you.”

The senator persisted with his line of questioning, but Thompson continued to be nonresponsive, insisting, “It’s a hypothetical, it’s not a fair question.”

Menendez disagreed: “It’s not a hypothetical. It’s what would happen if we cannot verify what they’re doing.”

Trump and his team consistently oppose attempts by Congress to exercise oversight of the executive branch. The future and safety of the American and Russian nuclear arsenals has serious implications for every person on earth, but Thompson refused to answer a direct question.

Instead of doing her job she stuck to the company line and stonewalled, making it unnecessarily difficult for Menendez and other senators to make informed policy decisions that will reverberate for decades.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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