McCain on Trump’s NATO Comments: Disappointing, Unsurprising

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ripped President Donald Trump’s comments about NATO countries and offered some cautious advice to him in a statement Thursday.

McCain is at home in Arizona undergoing treatment for the brain cancer with which he was diagnosed last year. He expressed his disappointment at Trump’s performance at the NATO summit in Brussels this week.

“President Trump’s performance at the NATO summit in Brussels was disappointing, yet ultimately unsurprising,” McCain said. “There is little use in parsing the president’s misstatements and bluster, except to say that they are the words of one man.

“Americans, and their Congress, still believe in the transatlantic alliance and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and it is clear that our allies still believe in us as well. That President Trump signed the Brussels Summit Declaration and ultimately expressed confidence in the future of the alliance is testament to the patience, forbearance, and commitment of our steadfast NATO partners.”

McCain then referenced Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of his Monday meeting with Trump in Helsinki. McCain said he would like Trump to “be strong” with the Russian leader.

“He must show that he can be strong and tough with Vladimir Putin — not for [America’s] own sake, but to demonstrate his willingness to defend America, its allies, our shared interests, and our common values against those who threaten them,” McCain said.

“Putin is not America’s friend, nor merely a competitor. Putin is America’s enemy — not because we wish it so, but because he has chosen to be. He chose to invade Ukraine and annex Crimea. He chose to help the Assad regime slaughter the Syrian people.

“He chose to attack America’s election and to undermine democratic institutions throughout the world and in Russia itself. It is up to President Trump to hold Putin accountable for his actions during the meeting in Helsinki. Failure to do so would be a serious indictment of his stewardship of American leadership in the world.”

McCain, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of this year due to his illness, is a frequent critic of both Trump and Putin.

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