Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasted President Donald Trump over his comments at the press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday.
'Disgraceful' and 'tragic'
“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory," McCain said in the statement Monday.
"The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate," he said. "But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake."
“President Trump proved not only unable," he continued, "but unwilling to stand up to Putin. 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."
"Assault on democratic institutions"
“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience," McCain added. "But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. 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, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world."
McCain continued to say in the statement, “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant." He added that the president failed to defend our values as "a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad."
"American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed," he concluded. "Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”
Here's the CNN news report on McCain's statement:
While most critics of the press conference zeroed in on the president siding with Putin against the U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the 2016 election, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) defended the president's comments an cited his own complaints against U.S. intelligence.