A retiring Republican congressman who has been critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he doesn’t care about any repercussions he may face from speaking out.
CNN “New Day” co-anchor Alisyn Camerota asked Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pennsylvania, if he was worried about fallout following his strong condemnation of Trump’s performance in Helsinki, in which the President would not endorse US intelligence agencies’ finding that Russia meddled in the 2016 election over the denial of Putin. Trump walked back his comments on Tuesday, which were widely condemned across bipartisan lines.
“I don’t really care about that. I was elected to vote and to speak my mind,” Costello said Wednesday morning. “It’s not because I like or dislike the President, it’s because I think as someone who is elected to the United States Congress, that is what I feel that I should do.”
Costello has repeatedly criticized Trump’s summit in Helsinki, telling CNN’s “Newsroom” on Tuesday that the President’s behavior “undermines the integrity of our democracy and the protection of our free and fair elections, which is more sacred than being a Republican or a Democrat.”
Asked about Trump’s walk-back on Tuesday, Costello told Camerota, “I don’t think the international community is going to buy it, and I think the damage was done at the time that he said it and the 24 ensuing hours after that fact.”
“When any President says things that really have nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat, but rather have to do with American institutions and who we are as a country … you need members from both parties speaking out against that and speaking for what our shared values as Americans are,” he added.