President Donald Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a tweet Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and presenting a photo of the two leaders as evidence.
Trump posted a photo of Schumer and Putin in New York smiling while eating donuts and coffee and wrote: “We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!”
The photo was taken during Putin’s visit to a Lukoil gas station in Manhattan in 2003. Lukoil is one of the largest oil companies in Russia. Schumer responded on Twitter, “Happily talk re: my contact w Mr. Putin & his associates, took place in ’03 in full view of press & public under oath. Would you &your team?”
It’s not the first time Trump’s team posted the photo. On Thursday, White House social media director Dan Scavino used it in response to a tweet by Schumer calling for an evaluation of Russia’s interference in the US election.
Schumer has not been accused of misconduct with the Russian government.
After news broke that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met the Russian ambassador twice last year but did not mention either meeting during his confirmation hearings when asked about contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians, Schumer wrote, “The bottom line is we have an obligation to get to the truth. We must evaluate the scope of Russia’s interference in our election.”
“Do it over a donut and coffee,” Scavino responded.
Then later Friday, Trump called for an investigation of Rep. Nancy Pelosi because of a photo reported by Politico where she is pictured at a table with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, current Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer.
He wrote, “I hereby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it.”
Pelosi, the House Minority leader, has called for Sessions to resign.
The exchanges are the latest in the back-and-forth between the Trump administration and its critics over the continuing controversy surrounding reports that Trump’s associates made repeated contact with Russians known to US intelligence during the campaign. CNN reported Thursday that Sessions was a senator and a top Trump surrogate when he met the ambassador twice, once the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in July and again in September when he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Facing pressure from Democrats and some Republicans in Congress to step aside from any investigation of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Sessions announced Thursday that he would recuse himself.
But Democrats say Sessions’ action doesn’t go far enough, and they are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate any connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was asked to resign by the President after the retired lieutenant general talked to the Russian ambassador but misled Vice President Mike Pence about their conversations.
Schumer has not been previously accused of misconduct with the Russian government.