GOP senator tears into Trump for congratulating Putin

GOP senator tears into Trump for congratulating Putin
© Getty Images

Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseMcCain to Trump: Cancel meeting if you won't hold Putin accountable Sasse: Putin is neither America's friend nor Trump's buddy GOP rallies around Kavanaugh as Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Neb.) tore into President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE on Wednesday for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection win. 

"Vladimir Putin is not a friend. Vladimir Putin is a despot. The President of the United States was wrong to congratulate him," Sasse said in a speech on the Senate floor.

"We were weakened as a nation and a tyrant was strengthened," he said.

The Nebraska senator has been critical of the president and the Kremlin. 

Sasse and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet MORE (R-Ariz.) last week called on the U.S. to lead a coordinated NATO response to the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in the U.K., which London and Washington have both blamed on Russia. 

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that part of the president's briefing materials for his call with Putin were labeled “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” in all-capital letters. 

Trump did not follow the directions and offered his congratulations to the leader, but it is not clear whether he read the directions prior to the call.  

The Post also reported that Trump did not follow directions to condemn Putin over the U.K. poisoning. 

The White House responded to the report on Wednesday, saying leaking the president's briefing materials could be a “fireable offense."

McCain blasted the report of the phone call, saying "An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections." 

The report comes as special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE continues to probe alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia's election meddling. 

Trump ramped up his attacks on Mueller's investigation over the weekend, referring to Mueller by his name for the first time in a tweet.