Does Roe back Trump on NATO and Russia?

Hank Hayes • Jul 20, 2018 at 8:30 AM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe on Thursday backed President Trump’s dealings with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries and Russia during Trump’s recent European trip.

“What I’ve thought for years is that Russians are Russians, and they will behave like Russians,” Roe, R-Tenn., said in a conference call with reporters. “We know it’s pretty clear that Russia tried to interfere in our elections. They weren’t successful in it, but they tried. … This has been going on for decades since before the Cold War since World War II was over. I look at simply how the president has behaved toward Russia. President Obama pulled us out of Iraq and that was a debacle. He created a red line in Syria and never did anything. He backed our missiles out of Poland and gave the Russians a green light to invade Crimea and then eastern Ukraine. … President Trump went over and insisted … there are 29 of you in NATO and it’s time you paid your fair share of the expenses. … He put the missiles back in Poland and helped arm Ukrainians. We have troops helping train them. … I don’t think Russia is our friend. … I’m proud of how the president has responded to Russia.”

Roe, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, also responded to these questions:

The Washington Post reported the VA was taking steps to purge staffers perceived to be disloyal to the president before the new VA secretary takes office. What’s your response to that?

“I know right now we need a secretary. … A lot of these political appointees are just that, and they serve at the pleasure of the president, just like the secretaries do. We know Dr. (David) Shulkin was replaced who I supported. … I’ve met the nominee, Mr. (Robert) Wilkie. … He needs to be confirmed sooner rather than later. … I don’t think there’s a purge going on. I think that when any administration comes in, they want their people in place. … We need some stability.”

What else is going on in veterans affairs?

“We held our first deep dive on the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. … We had a couple roundtables and a hearing in subcommittee on the Forever GI Bill implementation. … (it) is probably one of the best pieces of legislation long-term that I will pass since I’ve been here. It extends for veterans the GI Bill benefit for a lifetime. When I got my GI Bill benefit, it was term limited for 10 years. The current GI Bill is 15 years.”

What progress is being made to reunite families who were separated at the border?

“In a couple weeks, I’ll be down at the border … and let you know what I find out .… I’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve been and talked to the HHS (Health and Human Services) secretary. It’s been pretty eye-opening how politicized it’s got and how professional it’s actually being done at the border.”

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