President Obama got caught in private conversation with a hot mic today in Seoul, South Korea, telling outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that Vladimir Putin should give him more "space" and that "[a]fter my election I have more flexibility."
President Obama: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space."
President Medvedev: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…"
President Obama: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."
President Medvedev: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you."
A senior House Republican on Monday accused President Obama of going back on promises he would not weaken U.S. missile defenses through negotiations with Russia after the president was overheard promising more concessions after his reelection.
Rep. Michael R. Turner (R., Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, sought an explanation for the overheard comments made by the president Monday in a discussion in Seoul with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
Obama told the outgoing Russian president that “this is my last election and after my election I’ll have more flexibility” regarding contentious missile defense talks with Moscow that have been underway for the past three years.
“Congress has made exquisitely clear to your administration and to other nations that it will block all attempts to weaken U.S. missile defense,” Turner stated in the letter. “As the chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee, which authorizes U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons policy, I want to make perfectly clear that my colleagues and I will not allow any attempts to trade missile defense of the United States to Russia or any other country.”
Turner noted that during the December 2010 ratification debate over the New START arms treaty with Russia the president made specific promises that Russia’s opposition to U.S. missile defenses would not impact U.S. plans to deploy both short- and medium-range missile defenses in Europe and elsewhere.
Additionally, the president promised to make both “qualitative and quantitative improvements in its missile defenses,” Turner said.
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