Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has found himself on a list of Americans that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants for questioning in exchange for giving the U.S. access to the 12 Russian election meddlers.
On Thursday, he said that both Putin’s “cockamamie” accusations against Americans and President Donald Trump’s refusal to reject outright Putin’s request are “lamentable,” “shocking” and make America look “weak.”
“Most shocking and just lamentable, I think was my real reaction when the White House was given the opportunity to categorically reject this moral equivalency between a legitimate indictment with lots of data and evidence to support it from Mr. Mueller, with a crazy, cockamamie scheme with no relation to facts whatsoever — the White House refused to do that,” McFaul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
McFaul said that he thinks it’s unlikely that he will be turned over to the Russian government, but he has lawyered up and is well-versed in his rights, including the option to go before a judge if the Department of Justice did sign off to release him to Putin.
Putin reportedly has a long-held grudge against McFaul, who has written extensively on his human rights record.
McFaul added that he worries that Trump’s lack of knowledge led him to “nod along” with whatever Putin wanted, including possibly selling McFaul down the river.
“This is an active intimidation against me, and it’s gonna create problems for me in the long term. My government, I hope, will step up today and categorically swat this back—when I say my government, I mean my President of the United States of America,” McFaul said. “When he just said last night America is no longer under attack—I’m sorry. I’m an American. I’m under attack by Vladimir Putin right now.”
“It is chilling,” he continued. “The notion that our President just kind of very casually said, ‘Oh, yeah let’s have our diplomats be interrogated.’ I want to be clear, to be interrogated because they think we’re criminals.”
He added that Trump’s refusal to push back against Putin’s demands makes America look “weak” on the global stage and fulfills Putin’s “wildest dreams.”
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during her Wednesday press briefing that Trump’s team is still deliberating on what Trump called an “incredible offer” on Monday.
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 19, 2018