McCarthy breaks with Trump over whether Vladimir Putin is a dictator

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has tried to walk a tightrope between estrangement from Donald Trump and perceptions of the former president, publicly contradicted him on Thursday about whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a dictator.

McCarthy’s response came after Trump posted a video on his social media page late Wednesday denounced “simple” criticism of Putin and his country and suggested that “Russia and the Russian people” should be treated with more respect by US leaders.

Trump’s comments were primarily aimed at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his potential rival for the GOP presidential nomination.

Earlier this month, DeSantis said the US shouldn’t be “further entangled” in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, calling it a “territorial dispute”. When the governor’s statement was criticized for being soft on Russia, DeSantis responded tacked back in an interview with British journalist Piers Morganwho said Putin was “basically a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons.”

That characterization didn’t seem to fit Trump well.

“To call Russia ‘a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons’ or to call Putin, quote, [an] authoritarian gas station attendant with some legacy of nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union, is exactly the kind of simpleminded thinking that spawned decades of failed diplomacy and ultimately war,” he said in his video.

While Trump has often defended the Russian leader in the past — particularly in 2017 by fending off criticism of Putin’s alleged killings by political opponents by asking “You think our country is so innocent?” – his unwillingness to use the term “Authorityrian” contradicts bbipartisan consensus and international opinion on Putin.

Trump argued that mocking Russia’s nuclear weapons or hinting at Putin’s alleged war crimes should be punished The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him only increases the likelihood of a nuclear conflict.

“Putin is authoritarian. President Xi [Jinping of China] is authoritarian. And I’m very concerned about where I see the world right now. It looks like 1936.”

– Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy

“Basically, it shows a lack of depth, a lack of seriousness, and a lack of sophistication about the intricacies and complexities of foreign policy,” Trump said. “You can’t do certain things and end up having peace.”

At a news conference on Thursday touting the passage of legislation to boost domestic energy production, several lawmakers said an increase in US energy would undermine authoritarians in Russia and China who exploit their countries’ oil and gas reserves.

When the house speaker was aAsked by HuffPost to reconcile this view with Trump’s remarks, McCarthy said, “I didn’t see what you’re talking about, but Putin is authoritarian. President Xi [Jinping of China] is authoritarian. And I’m very concerned about where I see the world right now. It looks like 1936.”

McCarthy also noted that Russia had arrested American reporter Evan Gershkovich overnight on charges of espionage and during a separate Interviewed by Fox News, urged Putin to release him.

“This is a journalist who has the right to do his job,” the spokesman told Fox, adding that the arrest “shows how deadly” the Russian leader is.

McCarthy said what Putin “is doing is against every area of ​​the rule of law.”

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