Senator John McCain lashed out at President Donald Trump regarding his press conference with Vladimir Putin on Monday. In a lengthy statement, McCain said it was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
McCain’s comments came just hours after Trump stood side by side with Putin and said that the Russia leader’s denial of election meddling “very powerful.”
The Republican Arizona senator is recovering at home from treatment for glioblastoma, the aggressive brain cancer which has largely kept him from the Senate since he announced the diagnosis a year ago last week.
McCain wrote: “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.
“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”
He said it was “painful an inexplicable” that Trump was accompanied by “competent and patriotic advisers” then went on to commit “blunders and capitulations.”
But he said: “These were not the errant tweets of a novice politician.
“These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”
There were other senior GOP leaders that spoke out after Trump’s performance at the press conference. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday there was “no question” that Moscow interfered in the U.S. 2016 election and that President Donald Trump “must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
“There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals,” the Republican leader in the House said.
“The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
After their two-hour face-to-face talks, Trump said Putin’s denial of meddling in the election was “very powerful.”
“I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said,
“So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said after meeting with Putin in Helsinki.
Another senior Republican, Jeff Flake, the junior senator from Arizona, tweeted, “This is shameful.”
Ben Sasse, the Republican senator from Nebraska, called it “bizarre” and “flat-out wrong” for Trump to suggest that both countries are to blame for their deteriorated relationship.
Democrats also used a press conference to increase their attacks on Trump.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s “weakness in front of Putin” proves the Russians have damaging information on him.
“Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin,” Pelosi tweeted.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of a “shameful performance.” He said it is “thoughtless, dangerous and weak” for Trump to take Putin’s word that Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections.