Several leading Republicans and other conservatives criticized President Trump for his defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin's record as a "killer" in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly asked Trump to explain his desire for improving relations with Putin, citing Putin's history, and Trump replied: "What, you think our country's so innocent?" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on CNN's State of the Union that it was wrong to suggest any equivalency between Russia's conduct and America's. "The Russians annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, and messed around in our elections," said McConnell, who branded Putin as a "thug."
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said there is "no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs" of Putin's regime. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, called Trump's comments on Putin "deeply troubling and wrong."