Mike Pence appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and said he did not see Trump’s comments as him creating a moral equivalency between the countries

By Stephanie Petit
Updated February 05, 2017 02:08 PM
Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Ron Sachs - Pool/Getty Images; Zach Gibson/AP

President Donald Trump‘s recent remarks defending Russian President Vladimir Putin are not sitting well with politicians.

Many spoke out against the 70-year-old business mogul’s praise of Putin in a preview of his pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly.

The president said of the foreign leader, “He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not, and if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS – which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world – that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.”

O’Reilly responded, “He’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”

“There are a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers,” said Trump. “What, you think our country is so innocent?”

After the sneak peek of the interview was released, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Meet the Press that she thinks the FBI should look into Trump’s connections with the Russians to see if they are blackmailing him.

“I want to know what the Russians have on Donald Trump,” Pelosi said on Sunday. “I think we have to have an investigation by the FBI into his financial, personal and political connections to Russia, and we want to see his tax returns, so we can have truth in the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump.”

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Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator for Florida, blasted the president over his defense of Putin. In a tweet Sunday morning, Rubio pointed out suspicious deaths of the Russian president’s political opponents.

“When has a Democratic political activists been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa? We are not the same as #Putin,” the Republican said.

In a follow-up post, he wrote, “Only reason we should ever lift sanctions on #Putin is if he meets conditions of sanctions & ends violations of #ukraine sovereignty.”

Rubio signed the tweets “MR,” signifying that it was personally written by the senator.

Liz Cheney, the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Representative for Wyoming, took to Twitter to express her disagreement with Trump’s statement.

“.@POTUS statement suggesting moral equivalence between Putin’s Russia and the United States of America is deeply troubling and wrong,” Cheney, who campaigned for Trump, wrote on Sunday.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday and called Putin a “thug.” Although he said he did not think Russia and the U.S. conducted themselves in similar ways, he did not comment specifically on Trump’s remarks.

“I’m not going to critique the president’s every utterance,” McConnell said. “But I do think America is exceptional, America is different. We don’t operate in any way the way the Russians do. I think there’s a clear distinction here that all Americans understand, and I would not have characterized it that way.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a steadfast Trump critic, shared similar sentiments on ABC’s This Week.

“Putin is an enemy of political dissent. The U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places or ideas that are in conflict,” Sasse said. “There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom living nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defense of his cronyism.”

Vice President Mike Pence appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and said he did not see Trump’s comments as him creating a moral equivalency between the two countries.

“President Trump has been willing to be critical of our country’s actions in the past,” he said. “But what you’re hearing there is a determination by the president of the United States to not let semantics or the arguments of the past get in the way of exploring the ability to work together with Russia and with President Putin in the days ahead.”

O’Reilly’s full interview with Trump will air at 4 p.m. ET during a pre-Super Bowl special on Fox.