Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called Putin a cause of global chaos and terror and decried President Trump for "cozying up" to him. He made the contentious comments on CNN Thursday.
Booker described the "egregious ways" in which Russia is conducting its foreign policy from Syria to Ukraine, and reported his meeting with Baltic countries feeling threatened by Russian expansionism.
I sat down with ambassadors from Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania yesterday. And see the fear that their country has because they are experiencing serious Russian interventions trying to undermine their democracies. This is one of the worst actors on the global stage, that is doing very serious things, now not just globally where the European Parliament is taking action, but also here in the United States and we need to treat it that way.
I do not understand, I have no explanation of why our president seems to be cozying up to someone who is causing so much global chaos and terror, violence and crimes. I do not understand.
There is no explanation possible for why we should be doing this. What we should be doing is right now is stepping up our actions against Russia, whether it be added sanctions, or more continued support for those literally trying to defend themselves from Russian encroachments like the Ukraine.
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) February 9, 2017
Trump has been harangued by Democrats demanding more information that might produce evidence of ties to Putin and Russia, including his taxes, which he refuses to produce. During the election campaign Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort resigned after questions were raised about his own connections to Russia.
More recently the Trump administration began a rhetorical war with CNN after the news outlet reported that he had been briefed by U.S. intelligence that Russia might have damaging personal information about him. When Buzzfeed published a dossier with the embarrassing accusations, they were roundly derided for their poor journalistic practices and Trump used the occasion to slam CNN's reporting as well.