WASHINGTON — Republican leaders yesterday loudly rejected several of President Trump’s tweets and remarks prompted reactions — raising the prospect of fissures that could detract from Trump’s efforts to move his agenda through Congress.
“I think the trick for Republicans is not get distracted by all the other stuff and focus completely on the legislative agenda, where they mostly agree with the president,” GOP strategist John Feehery said.
Trump drew rebukes from some GOP lawmakers for comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin to U.S. leaders.
“I do respect him,” Trump said of Putin in a Fox News interview aired yesterday. “I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not.”
“Putin’s a killer,” Bill O’Reilly said to the president.
“We got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?” Trump said. “Take a look at what we’ve done, too.”
GOP leaders were quick to push back.
“No, I don’t think there is any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I’m not going to critique the president’s every utterance, but I do think America is exceptional,” McConnell said.
Asked in a “Meet the Press” interview on NBC if there is a moral equivalency between the two nations, Vice President Mike Pence said: “No, not in the least. Not in the least.”
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was more direct.
“There is no equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defense of his cronyism,” Sasse said.
In a tweet, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said: “When has a Democratic political activists been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa? We are not the same as #Putin.”
McConnell also said no federal funds would be spent investigating voter fraud, despite Trump’s call for such a probe and his repeated and unproven claims that millions of illegal votes were cast.
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