McConnell breaks with Trump on Putin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Progressives put Democrats on defense MORE (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he doesn’t view Russian President Vladimir Putin the same way as President Trump does.

McConnell called Putin “a thug” during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union." The Kentucky Republican noted Putin is a former KGB agent and rejected Trump’s attempt to downplay Putin’s human rights abuses.

When asked about allegations that Putin is “a killer,” Trump told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly on Saturday that the United States has its own record of extrajudicial killings.

“You think our country’s so innocent?” he asked.

McConnell pushed back against that on Sunday.


“I don’t think there’s any equivalency,” McConnell said of the human rights records of the United States and Russia.

“America is exceptional," he added. “There’s a clear distinction here.”

“I obviously don’t see this issue the same way as he does.”

Trump told O’Reilly that he respects Putin but warned that doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily get along with him.

"I do respect him," he said. "I respect a lot of people, that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with him."

Before President Obama left office, senior administration officials leaked a classified assessment by the CIA that Putin personally approved attempts by Russian intelligence to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump.

--This report was updated at 10:32 a.m.