By Max Greenwood – 03/20/18 01:29 PM EDT
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasted President Trump on Tuesday over news that Trump phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his recent electoral win.
Putin won reelection in a landslide on Sunday — but both election observers and Putin’s political opponents have charged that the vote was tainted by widespread fraud.
In a statement, McCain called Trump’s phone call to Putin an insult to “every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future.”
“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said.
“And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, 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.”
Trump called Putin on Tuesday to offer his congratulations on the Russian president’s victory, saying the two world leaders could meet again soon.
“We had a very good call,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We will probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”
The phone call came days after the Trump administration slapped new sanctions on Russia for its efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. The administration also ripped Russia last week over allegations that Moscow was behind the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy with a military-grade nerve agent on British soil.
Trump has personally faced scrutiny for what Democrats and some Republicans have called his reluctance to forcefully condemn aggressions by Russia, most notably the plot to interfere and disrupt the U.S. presidential race.
McCain has been a particularly fierce critic of Trump’s posture toward Moscow. After the president approved the release of a controversial memo authored by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee last month, McCain suggested that Trump was “doing Putin’s job for him.”
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