Dem: Trump's 'bromance' with Putin has clouded his views on Russia

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Washington, December 26, 2017 | comments

John Bowden

Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly (VA) on Tuesday accused President Trump of harboring a "bromance" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which the lawmaker says has clouded Trump's vision on Russia.

In an interview with "The Lead" on CNN, Connolly told host Jim Sciutto that a recent decision from the Trump administration to sell lethal weaponry to Ukraine amid the country's conflict with pro-Russian separatists came despite Trump's "inexplicable" soft spot for Putin.

"I think that the machinery of the United States government, the defense machinery, the foreign policy machinery has never wavered in understanding that Russia is an adversary and a threat to western values and our own democratic system," Connolly said Tuesday.

"[But] I think the president has a lot of trouble getting that in his head because of his own personal conflicts and his own personal needs and relationships with Russians, Russian oligarchs who financed part of his enterprise and his inexplicable admiration, bromance, for Vladimir Putin," added Connolly. "So I think in some ways we’re doing this despite the president."

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it would sell more than $80 billion of lethal weaponry to Ukraine's military, including anti-tank missiles and sniper rifle systems.

Connolly said he believed the president was "reluctant" to sign off on the policy, which was seen as a shift in U.S. policy in Ukraine from the Obama administration.

"I think he is a very reluctant signatory to the recent national strategic policy that was announced,” Connolly said.

Republicans in Congress praised the Trump administration for the decision last week, including some who have been critical of Trump in the past such as Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

“I’m pleased the administration approved the sale of defensive lethal arms to Ukraine,” Corker said in a statement. “This decision was supported by Congress in legislation that became law three years ago and reflects our country’s longstanding commitment to Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression.”
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