WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a statement Saturday following President Donald Trump's comments suggesting he believes Vladimir Putin's claims that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
Using the slogan Trump used during his inauguration, McCain said, "There's nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community."
McCain also criticized the president for his brief discussions with the Russian leader on Syria.
"There's no ‘principled realism’ in cooperating with Russia to prop up the murderous Assad regime, which remains the greatest obstacle to a political solution that would bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria," the statement said.
Earlier Saturday, while en route to Hanoi for meetings with Vietnam leaders, Trump told reporters Putin told him he didn't meddle. Trump added he strongly thinks Putin is telling the truth.
"Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump said. "But he says I didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country."
Trump also singled out former CIA Director John Brennan, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, and former FBI Director James Comey, all of whom have cited evidence about Russia election activity in 2016, calling them "political hacks."
In response, McCain, in the statement said, "Putin does not have America's interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk."