John McCain Slams Trump's NATO Performance: 'Putin Is Our Enemy' and Must Be Held 'Accountable'

Arizona Senator John McCain issued a scathing rebuke Thursday of President Donald Trump’s performance at the annual NATO summit, calling it “disappointing yet ultimately unsurprising” and urged the president to “hold Putin accountable” during Trump’s meeting next week with the Russian president.

“[Vladimir] Putin is not America’s friend, nor merely a competitor,” McCain said. “Putin is America’s enemy, not because we wish it so but because he has chosen to be.”

While at the NATO summit, Trump talked about what he might say to Putin at next week’s meeting in Helsinki, Finland,

“What am I going to do?” Trump asked at a press conference at the summit’s conclusion. “All I can do is say, ‘Did you?’ and ‘Don’t do it again.’ But he may deny it. You’ll be the first to know.” He added that Putin was “not my enemy” and that “hopefully, someday, he’ll be a friend. It could happen.”

McCain listed Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, his continued support of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its brutality against its own people, and Russian interference in the 2016 election as reasons why the Russian president “has chosen to be” America’s enemy.

“It is up to President Trump to hold Putin accountable for his actions during the meeting in Helsinki,” McCain said. “Failure to do so would be a serious indictment of his stewardship of American leadership in the world.”

The Republican senator has long expressed outspoken criticism of Trump’s praise for the Russian leader.

During the summit with NATO leaders at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Trump seemed to shock world leaders on multiple occasions.

The president accused Germany of being “totally controlled by Russia,” reportedly spent part of a dinner bragging to allies about his unprecedented meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, demanded that NATO double its military spending target, and said he “probably [could]” withdraw the U.S. from NATO without congressional approval, although it’s “unnecessary.”

As Trump used Wednesday's breakfast to accuse Germany of being “captive to Russia” and demanded countries pay more for NATO, even the president’s chief of staff, John Kelly, who sat a few feet away from Trump at the table, seemed noticeably uncomfortable. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later claimed the displeased look on Kelly’s face was because “he was hoping for a full breakfast and they only had pastries and cheese.”

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