Senate

White House distances itself from Graham’s Putin comments

The White House on Friday distanced itself from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) call for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you’d hear come from the mouth of anybody in this administration,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing.

Psaki added that the administration believes there is still a diplomatic path forward should Putin choose to pursue it, despite the escalation in Russian tactics in recent days. 

“But no, we are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or regime change. That is not the policy of the United States,” Psaki said. 

Graham on Thursday night suggested the only way the Russian invasion of Ukraine would end “is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.”

“Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?” Graham posted on Twitter, referring to the assassin of Julius Caesar and the attempted assassin of Adolf Hitler, respectively.

The commentary drew backlash from some Republicans, who called it a bad idea and unhelpful amid heightened tensions globally.

“This is an exceptionally bad idea. Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted. “But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state.”

Global leaders have grown increasingly concerned about Putin’s mindset and conduct as the attacks on Ukraine escalate. There have been widespread reports of Russian attacks targeting civilian areas indiscriminately, and fighting broke out late Thursday at a nuclear plant.  

Updated at 2:41 p.m. 

Tags Jen Psaki Lindsey Graham Russia Ted Cruz Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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