Sen. John McCain lit into President Donald Trump for his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday, calling the appearance “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate,” the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a statement. “But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.
“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” added the Arizona Republican who has frequently tangled with Trump. “He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.”
Over the course of the briefing, Trump said that the United States was to blame for tensions between the two nations, hailed Russia as a “good competitor,” and even sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies on whether the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to boost his presidential campaign.
“These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule,” McCain continued. “Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency.”