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 GrassleyThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Hillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products 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 TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death 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 McCainThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Redistricting reform key to achieving the bipartisanship Americans claim to want Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race 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 McConnellMcConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week 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.”