U.S.

John McCain: Donald Trump ‘Abased Himself’ Before ‘Tyrant’ Putin Like No President Before Him

U.S. Senator John McCain offered a scathing rebuke of President Donald Trump’s meeting and press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday, accusing the leader of his own party of having “abased himself” before a “tyrant.” He added that the president’s overall performance was the “most disgraceful” ever given by a commander in chief.

The Arizona Republican released his statement just hours after Trump and Putin made their remarks before reporters, with Trump indicating he believed Putin’s denials over the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain said. “Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”

McCain, who has been critical of Trump ever since the billionaire first took to the campaign trail, added that Trump “proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.” The former presidential candidate said it appeared as if Trump and Putin were “speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.”

In the hours since Trump and Putin’s conference in Helsinki, the president has faced criticism from all sides for his failure to publicly denounce his Russian counterpart over meddling in the U.S. election system and instead offering condemnation of Democrats, Hillary Clinton and the FBI.

McCain’s rebuke followed those of other top Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Graham claimed Trump had “missed an opportunity” and that Russia might now see “weakness” in the U.S.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections. This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves,” Graham tweeted.

Graham, though, did state he has yet to see any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Ryan, often criticized for failing to publicly hold Trump accountable for his words and actions, said in a statement that Trump “must appreciate that Russia is not our ally," adding that "There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”

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