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 TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerGraham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' House progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE's probe into Russian election interference has made new headlines this week

Mueller accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortBanker charged for allegedly approving Manafort loans for Trump job House Democrat 'fixed' Trump's infographic about Mueller's investigation Michael Caputo eyes congressional bid 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