Vladimir Putin is “a thug,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Sunday in a scathing critique of the Russian president that contrasts with Donald Trump’s view.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” McConnell rejected Trump’s comments to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that downplayed Putin’s human rights abuses.
“He is a former KGB agent, a thug, not elected in a way that most people consider a credible election,” McConnell said. “I don’t think there is any equivalency with the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”
“I think America is exceptional, America is different,” he added. “We don’t operate in any way the way the Russians do. I think there is a clear distinction here that all Americans understand… ”
“I obviously don’t see this issue the same way as he does,” he said.
Trump also told O’Reilly he respects Putin, but warned that doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily get along with him.
“I do respect him,” he said. “I respect a lot of people, that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him.”