The following article by Josh Delk was posted on the Hill website November 11, 2017:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Saturday that there is “nothing ‘America First’ ” about trusting the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin, following President Trump’s meeting with the leader and subsequent comments on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community,” McCain said in a statement, after Trump said he believed Putin when he denied Russia sought to interfere in the election.
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said aboard Air Force One, after speaking with Putin in Vietnam at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
Trump told reporters that he “can’t stand there and argue” with Putin on the issue, having asked him about it several times, saying he would “rather have him get out of Syria.”
McCain also took issue with the president’s reportedly brief discussions with Putin on the civil war in Syria, in which Russia supports the Syrian government.
“There’s no ‘principled realism’ in cooperating with Russia to prop up the murderous Assad regime, which remains the greatest obstacle to a political solution that would bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria,” said McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Trump did not press the election issue with Putin despite a report from the U.S. intelligence community asserting that Russia tried to swing the 2016 outcome in his favor. The president has repeatedly said that he and his campaign did not collude with Russia in the effort.
“Vladimir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk,” McCain said.