Sen. Jon McCain called out President Trump for congratulating Vladimir Putin Tuesday on his re-election, saying an American president “does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.”
Trump’s interactions with Russia are under a microscope because of evidence that Russian operators conspired to help him in the 2016 election. But Trump’s well-wishes were quite similar to the ones President Obama offered the Russian autocrat in 2012, as Foreign Policy and others noted.
An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election. https://t.co/lcQTBi7CA1
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 20, 2018
“I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory,” Trump said from the Oval Office. “We will probably get together in the not too distant future.”
Putin’s win was widely considered a foregone conclusion: As the BBC noted, Putin has led Russia since 1999, and the main opposition leader was barred from the race. Putin got more than 76 percent of the vote.
Trump says he congratulated Putin on winning Russian presidential election and they will meet soon
"I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory … We will probably get together in the not too distant future" pic.twitter.com/jeGUsE22zB
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) March 20, 2018
The White House offered more details about what Trump and Putin discussed in an official readout provided to reporters Tuesday.
“The two leaders discussed the state of bilateral relations and resolved to continue dialogue about mutual national security priorities and challenges,” it read. “The two leaders confirmed the need for the United States and Russia to continue our shared efforts on strategic stability.”
Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer pointed out that Trump was one of many world leaders to call Putin and congratulate him on the “win.”
“Not actually news,” he tweeted. “France President Macron, Israel PM Netanyahu and Japan PM Abe all beat him to it.”
Trump calls to congratulate Putin on “election” win.
Not actually news.
France President Macron, Israel PM Netanyahu and Japan PM Abe all beat him to it. https://t.co/gn9UXPaVkS
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) March 20, 2018
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