Ex-ambassador finds 'continuity' in Obama and Trump's Russia policies

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said in an interview that aired Friday on "Rising" that there is "a lot of continuity" between the Obama and Trump administrations on their policies toward Moscow. 

"I think there's a real paradox. The Trump administration, as a whole I think, has a pretty sound policy towards Russia," McFaul, who served under former President Obama, told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons. 

"I think there's a lot of continuity between the Obama administration and the Trump administration vis-a-vis Russia," he continued. "President Obama was the person who put in sanctions, the most comprehensive sanctions in the history of our bilateral relationship with Russia, and the Trump administration has continued and supported and expanded those sanctions."

"Obama got together with our allies, strengthened NATO, and the Trump administration has continued to do that," he said."In certain areas, they've gone beyond what Obama was prepared to do, for instance, providing lethal assistance to the Ukrainians." 

However, McFaul went on to point out at that President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE's rhetoric on Russia and President Vladimir Putin has often contradicted his own government's stances. 

"The president himself doesn't seem to agree with the policy. He can't bring himself to ever criticize Putin. He's never criticized him for what he did in violating American sovereignty in 2016 during our presidential elections," he said. "In this recent episode when every other leader in the world has criticized Vladimir Putin for this military assault against Ukrainian sailors, President Trump says both sides are creating tensions." 

The two world leaders are currently attending the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. 

Trump canceled a scheduled meeting with Putin amid the recent tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

The developments come as special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's probe into Russian election interference has made new headlines this week

Mueller accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times Swalwell says Butina guilty plea shows 'influx of Russians' into US ‘political bloodstream’ Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — Officials warn of threat from Chinese spying | China blamed for Marriott hack | Trump open to intervening in Huawei case | FCC mulls ending merger ban on 'Big Four' networks | California floats tax on texts MORE of violating his plea agreement by lying to authorities. He also accepted a new guilty plea from Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who now says the Trump Organization was pursuing a real estate deal in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential race.

Trump has repeatedly referred to the investigation as a politically motivated "witch hunt." 

— Julia Manchester