Sen. John McCain praised the Department of Justice’s announcement of the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, adding President Donald Trump shouldn’t meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin unless he holds him accountable.
“President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world,” the Arizona senator said in a statement Friday. “If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward.”
The statement came hours after the Justice Department announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing them of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks.
Trump is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin – who has denied election meddling – in Helsinki on Monday for a summit that includes a one-on-one meeting with only interpreters present.
McCain wasn’t the only Republican senator to criticize Putin following the indictments. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said in a statement that “all patriotic Americans” should know Putin is not “the President’s buddy.”
“The US intelligence community knows that the Russian government attacked the US,” he said in a statement. “This is not a Republican or a Democrat view – it is simply the reality. All patriotic Americans should understand that Putin is not America’s friend, and he is not the President’s buddy. We should stand united against Putin’s past and planned future attacks against us.”