Grassley on Trump calling Putin: 'I wouldn't have a conversation with a criminal'

Grassley on Trump calling Putin: 'I wouldn't have a conversation with a criminal'
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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (R-Iowa) says he wouldn’t have called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his reelection, referring to the Russian leader as a “criminal.”

Grassley’s comments to reporters on Wednesday were a pointed reproof in response to President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE’s call to Putin the previous day, which sparked backlash after Trump declined to press Putin on the fairness of Russia's election and the poisoning of a former Russian double agent living in England.

“I think Putin is a criminal. What he did in Georgia, what he did in Ukraine, what he did in Baltic, what he’s done in London poisoning people with active nerve gas, that’s a criminal act. I wouldn’t have a conversation with a criminal,” Grassley said when asked about Trump's call.


Trump in his conversation with Putin also did not raise concerns about allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election but did congratulate Putin for winning another six-year term over the weekend.

Before the call, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump’s national security advisers warned him in briefing materials in all-capital letters, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”

Trump has faced criticism for not addressing the nerve-gas poisoning of a former Russian spy living in England after British officials concluded last week that Russia was behind the attack.

Lawmakers have also continued to criticize Putin over the annexation of Crimea, a province of Ukraine, in 2014.

Grassley’s comments Wednesday are some of the strongest among Republicans on Capitol Hill in the wake of Trump's call with the Russian leader.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Ex-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds DOJ: Arizona recount could violate civil rights laws MORE (R-Ariz.) also came down hard on Trump.

“An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said in a statement. “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Republican governor of Arkansas says 'Trump is dividing our party' MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said Putin’s reelection was a sham.

“When I look at a Russian election, what I see is a lack of credibility in tallying the results. I’m always reminded of the elections they used to have in almost every communist country where whoever the dictator was at the moment always got huge percentages of the vote,” he said.

“So calling him wouldn’t have been high on my list,” McConnell added of Putin.

Yet the GOP leader also said, “The president can call whomever he chooses.”