Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia

Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said Tuesday that the Trump administration’s policies toward Russia largely mirror those of the Obama administration, despite claims from the White House that Trump has been tougher. 

“You know who’s tough on Russia? [special counsel Robert] Mueller’s tough on Russia,” McFaul said on NBC's “Meet The Press Daily.” 

After the Justice Department announced charges last week against Russian nationals and organizations for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. election, Trump and the White House have repeatedly criticized former President Obama for failing to act.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday claimed Trump has been “tougher on Russia in one year than Obama was in eight years.”

But McFaul, who served as ambassador from 2012-2014, said he sees “a lot of continuity” between the Obama and Trump administrations in how each approaches Russia. 

He noted two things the Trump administration has done that have been more aggressive. One is the decision to approve lethal aid to the Ukraine, and the other is the Mueller indictments from last week, he said.

“But the problem is, the president… never talks that way. He’s never criticized Vladimir Putin. Twenty-one tweets or whatever and not one of them was aimed at Putin,” McFaul said.

“And therefore it creates the impression that all of these policies are being done despite president trump, not because he’s showing presidential leadership,” he added.