Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey slammed President Donald Trump Monday for going out of his way to defend Russian President Vladimir Putin.
McCaffrey said that Trump’s defense of Putin may be “the most anti-American statement ever made by the President of the United States,” in an interview on MSNBC. “To confuse American values with Putin, who is running a criminal oligarchy,” he added.
McCaffrey was referring to Trump’s appearance on Fox News Saturday, in which Bill O’Reilly referred to Putin as a “killer” after Trump said he had a certain amount of respect for the man.
Trump then went on to downplay Putin’s past by saying that killing is not that uncommon and also that the U.S. was guilty of the same offense.
“There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump said.
For McCaffrey, Trump’s statement is so baffling that “it’s hard to know what to think about it.”
Following Trump’s interview with O’Reilly, Vice President Mike Pence stepped in on Sunday and clarified that the president wasn’t in any way trying to place Russia and the United States on equivalent moral grounds.
Former CIA Director Michael Morell also added on “CBS This Morning” that Trump’s statement is quite bizarre, given that Putin has killed journalists and political opponents.
“There’s no equivalency between those extrajudicial killings of political opponents and what the United States does overseas under the authority of the President of the United States to defend the United States against serious threats,” Morell said. “So it’s a very bizarre statement.”
Morell noted that Trump seems to have a special affection for Putin, and it’s unclear exactly why that is the case, though it certainly has irked Republicans and Democrats alike, who have referred to Putin as a thug. Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi wondered if the Russians have any dirt on Trump that’s causing him to defend Putin so earnestly.
The Kremlin has since demanded an apology from Fox News for O’Reilly’s offensive question suggesting Putin is a killer.
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