Ryan: Putin is an 'aggressor'

Ryan: Putin is an 'aggressor'
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Krystal Ball issues warning to Biden supporters Saagar Enjeti: Crenshaw's conservatism will doom future of GOP MORE (R-Wis.) distanced himself on Thursday from Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE’s praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The night before, Trump contrasted Putin favorably to President Obama during NBC News’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum.”

“He’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” Trump said of Putin on Wednesday night, adding that he thinks he would have a “very, very good relationship” with Russia and its leader. 

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Trump’s embrace of Putin stands in contrast to longstanding positions of the Democratic and Republican foreign policy establishments. 

Ryan adhered to a position of viewing Putin as adversarial to the United States, citing the recent hacks of Democratic Party organizations that are suspected to be the work of Russian intelligence.

“Let me say this about Vladimir Putin: Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interests. Vladimir Putin is violating the sovereignty of neighboring countries. It certainly appears that he is conducting state-sponsored cyberattacks on what appears to be our political system. That is not acting in our interests,” Ryan said during a Capitol Hill news conference.

When pressed if he was concerned about Trump’s praise of Putin, Ryan dodged: “I made my points about Putin clear. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Earlier Thursday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) pushed back against Trump’s stance on Putin.

“I think I would urge caution,” McCaul said at an event hosted by The Atlantic. “The idea that Russia is somehow a friend of ours, or that Putin is a friend, is a false narrative.”

Trump insisted that he wouldn’t be influenced by compliments from Putin when asked by NBC’s Matt Lauer if he felt comfortable being praised by a former KGB officer.

“Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I’ll take the compliment, OK?” Trump said. “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.”