GOP senator tears into Trump for congratulating Putin

GOP senator tears into Trump for congratulating Putin
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Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseGrassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt Bill Kristol building 'war machine' to challenge Trump in 2020 primary Rand Paul ramps up his alliance with Trump MORE (R-Neb.) tore into President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE on Wednesday for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection win. 

"Vladimir Putin is not a friend. Vladimir Putin is a despot. The President of the United States was wrong to congratulate him," Sasse said in a speech on the Senate floor.

"We were weakened as a nation and a tyrant was strengthened," he said.

The Nebraska senator has been critical of the president and the Kremlin. 

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Sasse and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAnother recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us To cure Congress, elect more former military members MORE (R-Ariz.) last week called on the U.S. to lead a coordinated NATO response to the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in the U.K., which London and Washington have both blamed on Russia. 

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that part of the president's briefing materials for his call with Putin were labeled “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” in all-capital letters. 

Trump did not follow the directions and offered his congratulations to the leader, but it is not clear whether he read the directions prior to the call.  

The Post also reported that Trump did not follow directions to condemn Putin over the U.K. poisoning. 

The White House responded to the report on Wednesday, saying leaking the president's briefing materials could be a “fireable offense."

McCain blasted the report of the phone call, saying "An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections." 

The report comes as special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE continues to probe alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia's election meddling. 

Trump ramped up his attacks on Mueller's investigation over the weekend, referring to Mueller by his name for the first time in a tweet.