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Democrats couldn’t find Russia on map before Trump, Arizona’s Franks says

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. takes questions during a TV interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 14, 2017, just before the Republican-led House decisively approved a defense spending bill for 2018, including nearly $30 billion more for core Pentagon operations than President Donald Trump requested. An amendment in the bill authored by Franks was rejected that would have required the Pentagon to identify "Islamic religious doctrines, concepts, or schools of thought" used by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups for recruitment, financing or propaganda purposes. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman said Friday that Democrats could not find Russia on a map until they decided to use it as a weapon to attack President Donald Trump.

“I don’t think Democrats could find Russia on a map until they concluded that this could somehow be used to beat up Donald Trump,” U.S. Rep. Trent Franks told CNN.

Russia — and the country’s possible interference in last year’s election — has been a matter of consternation for Trump’s six months in office.

The most recent issue to crop up was a June 2016 meeting between Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who claimed to have negative information about then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Franks said he was not surprised to learn that Trump Jr. took the meeting, as he would expect a lot of people to do the same.

“If some Russian told my opponents that they had information on me, I’m sure they (Democrats) would have been glad to take the meeting,” he said. “I think a lot of people would have taken the meeting.”

Franks said the meeting should be regarded as a minor issue until more evidence proved otherwise.

“The key would be if there was something that he learned that was illegally obtained or somehow an attempt to create espionage, he would have the right – not only the right, but the responsibility – to turn that over to the legal authorities,” he said. “I guess it never came to that.”

A Russian-American lobbyist who claimed to have been in the room said the meeting was “not substantive” and he “actually expected more serious” discussion.

Franks also said he was dismayed the conversation in Washington, D.C. has remained focused on Russia when Congress has so much work to do.

“I’m on the nuclear committee here and I see some profound implications for America on the horizon, yet my friends on the left, all they can talk about is Russia,” he said.

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