News & Politics

'Conscious Choice to Defend a Tyrant': John McCain Issues Furious Response to 'Disgraceful' Trump-Putin Conference

The 81-year-old Republican minced no words when he lambasted the president.

Photo Credit: CNN

Sen. John McCain of Arizona has, at times, been unafraid to break ranks with President Trump when he felt it was appropriate—McCain’s vote against overturning the Affordable Care Act of 2010 last year was a huge disappointment to Trump as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—and today, the 81-year-old Republican minced no words when he lambasted the president for his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

In an official statement, McCain angrily asserted, “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”

McCain went on to say, “President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling, to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be 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.”

McCain, who has been suffering from brain cancer, isn’t the only prominent right-winger who has criticized Trump on foreign policy in recent days. Interviewed last week on MSNBC by anchor Brian Williams, Weekly Standard founder William Kristol criticized Trump for his “incessant attacks on our NATO allies” and complained that Putin has been “consistently treated better” by Trump than NATO members have. And McCain, like Kristol, believes that Trump is much more favorable to Putin than to NATO.

McCain complained, “Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful.

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.