The Republican head of the House Homeland Security Committee is pushing back against his party’s presidential nominee’s repeated support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I think I would urge caution,” Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said at an event hosted by the Atlantic on Thursday, a day after Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE refused to back down from his compliments to the Russian leader.
“The idea that Russia is somehow a friend of ours, or that Putin is a friend, is a false narrative.”
“They’re not our friends.”
McCaul’s comments reflect a wide unease within the Republican Party about Trump’s insistent and seemingly unprecedented praise for Putin, a man usually treated as a pariah in U.S. politics.
“He’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” Trump said on Wednesday evening, at a forum hosted by NBC.
“I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. And I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia.”
“And, you know, the beautiful part of getting along — Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do,” Trump added, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?”
While Moscow has claimed to be targeting ISIS and similar extremist groups with its intervention in Syria, U.S. officials claim that it is instead bolstering the government of President Bashar Assad, at times in direct opposition to rebel forces backed by the U.S.
“I think we do have a common enemy — the Russians don’t like the Islamist jihadists,” McCaul acknowledged. “But we really can’t trust them.”
“Their No. 1 objective there is to reinforce Assad’s stability.”