Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Sunday that he won’t “critique every utterance” of President Donald Trump, even those he disagrees with.
“Are you comfortable with the President of the United States seeming to equate U.S. actions with those of Putin’s authoritarian regime?” Jake Tapper asked McConnell on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Putin’s a former KGB agent, he’s a thug, he was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election,” McConnell replied. “No, I don’t think there is any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”
“Does it trouble you that he said this?” Tapper pressed.
“America is different,” McConnell said. “I think there is a clear distinction here that all Americans understand, and no, I would not have characterized it that way.”
“You said all Americans understand. Are you confident that the President understands it?” Tapper asked.
“Look, Jake, I can speak for myself and I already have about my feelings about Vladimir Putin and the way the Russians operate. I’m not going to critique every utterance of the President,” McConnell said.
Tapper then turned to Trump’s claim that “many people” agree with his unsubstantiated claims that massive voter fraud cost him the popular vote.
“Do you want to spend taxpayer money to hunt for these apparently non-existent three to five million illegal votes?” he asked.
“Election fraud does occur,” McConnell said. “There is no evidence that it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election. And I don’t think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that.”
Trump said in an interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly set to air Sunday afternoon that he wants to “get along with Russia.” He brushed off concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime by saying that the United States is not “so innocent” and has “a lot of killers.”
Pressed for data to back up his unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud in the 2016 election, Trump claimed “many people” agree with him.
“Look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration,” he said. “It’s really a bad situation. It’s really bad.”