Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) lambasted President Donald Trump’s joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.
The Arizona senator released a statement describing President Trump’s remarks during the press conference as “pathetic,” disgraceful,” and “painful” to observe — “a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency.”
“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,” Sen. McCain’s statement begins. “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.”
It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.
McCain highlighted the coziness between President Trump and his Russian counterpoint in contrast to his tough talk towards the United States’ European allies. Last Wednesday, President Trump scolded Germany during a breakfast with NATO officials in Brussel over Berlin’s support of a Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal with the Kremlin, describing Europe’s largest economy as a “captive of Russians.” In an interview with British tabloid The Sun, President Trump predicted the British government’s proposed watered down Brexit strategy “will probably kill” hopes of a bilateral trade agreement with the United States. Ahead of his high-stakes meeting with Putin, President Trump branded the European Union a “foe” in respect to trade.