State Politics

Risch concerned nerve agent ‘may be another attempt to silence’ Russian critics

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, takes a phone call during a January 2015 GOP policy meeting in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, takes a phone call during a January 2015 GOP policy meeting in Washington, D.C. AP

A spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Jim Risch says there is concern Moscow may be up to its old tricks following news of a nerve-agent attack in the United Kingdom.

As the widely expected next chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Risch’s perspective on such international incidents indicates how he may approach key policy.

“The senator, along with the entire U.S. government, strongly condemns the use of this lethal nerve agent and believes anyone responsible should face consequences,” Risch spokesperson Kaylin Minton told the Statesman on Tuesday.

“There is a history of this type of behavior by the Russians in London, and the senator is deeply concerned that this may be another attempt to silence critics of the regime in Moscow,” she said.

But Risch’s staff stopped short of directly pointing a finger at Russia.

“The UK’s investigation is ongoing and until they have reached a definitive conclusion, Senator Risch cannot comment on presumed guilt,” Minton said.

Risch had little to say about President Donald Trump firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Tuesday.

“I join my colleagues in thanking Rex Tillerson for his dedication and service to the country; I wish him and his family all the best,” Risch said in a press statement.

Risch did support Trump’s pick to replace Tillerson.

“Mike Pompeo is a proven defender of U.S. national security interests, and I have full confidence in his ability to lead the State Department as well as he has led the CIA. I will continue working closely with him in his new role,” Risch said.

As for Pompeo’s proposed replacement?

“Gina Haspel is well-respected in the intelligence community and I look forward to her nomination process,” Risch said.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

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