Senator John McCain appeared disgusted that President Donald Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election victory.
“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said in a statement.
The Arizona senator added that Trump had “insulted every Russian citizen” by congratulating Putin, suggesting that the Russian president had won in a fraudulent election.
“President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime,” McCain concluded.
Despite America’s differences with Russia, U.S. Presidents and leaders of other Western countries traditionally congratulate Putin for winning his election. In 2012, Obama called Putin to congratulate him on his electoral victory, despite reports questioning the election’s integrity.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump’s decision.
“We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” she said during the White House daily press briefing. “What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that’s not something that we can dictate to them … we can only focus on the freeness and fairness of our elections.”