John McCain blasts Trump for congratulating Putin on winning ‘sham election’

  • John McCain criticized President Donald Trump for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection.
  • “An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” the GOP senator said.
  • Russia held presidential elections over the weekend, but there have been reports of ballot-stuffing.

Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday criticized US President Donald Trump for congratulating Vladimir Putin on being reelected as president of Russia.

“An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” the veteran GOP senator from Arizona said in a statement.

On Sunday, Putin won more than 75% of the vote in Russia’s presidential election, securing him at least another six years in power. There have been allegations of ballot-stuffing during the election, and election monitors were harassed and intimidated in the run-up to the vote.

The Economist’s Democracy Index categorizes the country as an “authoritarian regime,” noting that “the climate for free expression in Russia has become increasingly inhospitable.”

On Tuesday, Trump spoke to Putin via phone and congratulated him on the win as well as discussing other subjects.

“President Trump has 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,” McCain said.

Trump, whose campaign’s ties to Russia are under scrutiny by the special counsel Robert Mueller and separate congressional investigations, also plans to meet again with Putin, The Washington Post reports.

But congratulations like those offered by Trump to Putin are not unprecedented. President Barack Obama previously congratulated Putin on reelection in 2012.