House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has broken ranks with former President Donald Trump over whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a dictator. The disagreement followed a video posted on Trump’s social media site decrying the treatment of Putin and his country, in which he criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his previous comments on the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Although McCarthy did not mention Trump directly, he stated that Putin was authoritarian, adding that he is concerned about the current international situation, which he likened to 1936. Trump’s unwillingness to use the term “authoritarian” for Putin goes against bipartisan consensus and international opinion.
Also read: Judge Orders More #Trump Lawyer Testimony
Trump has previously defended Putin, notably in 2017, when he deflected criticism of Putin’s alleged killings of political opponents by asking, “You think our country’s so innocent?” In the recent video, he argued that using derogatory terms about Russia’s nuclear capabilities would only worsen the chances of nuclear conflict. Furthermore, Trump claimed that Putin’s recent arrest of the American reporter, Evan Gershkovich, on espionage charges, showed how deadly the Russian leader can be.
Meanwhile, McCarthy called on Putin to release Gershkovich, asserting that what Putin is doing is “against every realm of the rule of law.” During a press conference about energy production, several lawmakers advocated for an increase in US energy to undermine authoritarians, such as those in Russia and China, who use their country’s oil and gas reserves as leverage.
DeSantis had previously argued that the US should avoid becoming further embroiled in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, calling it a “territorial dispute.” He later changed his tune in an interview with Piers Morgan, calling Putin “basically a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons.” Trump criticized DeSantis for this, accusing him of “simple-minded thinking” and advocating for more respect for Russia and its people. However, Trump’s stance on Putin as authoritarian is at odds with McCarthy’s view.
Also read: Mike Pence Doubles Down
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia is ongoing, with tensions increasing between the two countries. The international community remains concerned about Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as well as his alleged involvement in the US election.