Trump Congratulates Putin on His Fraudulent Win While Pence Slams Venezuela for Its 'Fake Election'

The hypocrisy of President Donald Trump's administration on human rights and democracy abroad made for a stunning display Monday.

At the day's White House press briefing, Sarah Sanders read a statement from the president congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on the beginning of his fourth term, echoing the well-wishes that Trump controversially gave to the authoritarian leader right after the election.

Yet mere minutes after Sanders' press briefing wrapped up, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a video from a speech he gave earlier in the day, condemning the upcoming "so-called elections in Venezuela," which he said will be a "fraud and a sham."

Many observers indeed believe the Venezuelan elections to be largely rigged in the Maduro regime's favor, and undemocratic regimes warrant scrutiny and criticism. 

But Putin's Russia is hardly a beacon for democracy. Mass media is largely state-run, and the president ensures that he faces no genuine competitors in the country's elections. And in addition to creating an uneven playing field, Putin's government is accused of overseeing thousands of "voting irregularities" by independent groups that throw the legitimacy of the final vote count into question.

For the administration to congratulate Putin but criticize Maduro in virtually the same breath shows a stunning lack of awareness or interest in how its blatant hypocrisy damages its standing abroad. It diminishes any effort the U.S. government makes to guide Venezuela out of its state economic and political crisis, and it further raises questions about Trump's own personal affinity for Russia's authoritarian leader.

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