President Donald Trump’s remarks defending Russian President Vladimir Putin are not sitting well with a number of Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In a pre-taped interview with Fox News, Trump seemed to put the U.S. and Russia on equal ground when it comes to killing.
O’Reilly asked Trump about his relationship with Putin, “a killer.”
“You got a lot of killers,” the president fired back. “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”
When asked about the comments on CNN’s “State of the Union,” McConnell said he wasn’t interested in critiquing “the president’s every utterance” but noted that “America is different. We don’t operate in any way the way the — the Russians do. I think there is a clear distinction here that all Americans understand. And, no, I would not have characterized it that way."
“I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does,” he added.
Republican Sens. Ben Sasse and Marco Rubio were also critical of the remarks.
“When has a Democratic political activists [sic] been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa? We are not the same as #Putin,” Rubio tweeted Sunday.
“Putin is an enemy of political dissent. The U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places or ideas that are in conflict,” Sasse, an outspoken Trump critic, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom living nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin's defense of his cronyism.”
And Rep. Liz Cheney said on Twitter that the comments were “deeply troubling and wrong.”
The blowback forced Vice President Mike Pence to do some damage control.
When asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if Trump was creating a “moral equivalency,” he said: “No, not in the least.”
“President Trump has been willing to be critical of our country’s actions in the past," Pence added. "But what you’re hearing there is a determination by the president of the United States to not let semantics or the arguments of the past get in the way of exploring the ability to work together with Russia and with President Putin in the days ahead.”