A GOP senator traveled to Russia to meet with Kremlin officials with a group of his colleagues — and is far less complimentary about the country and its leader than President Donald Trump.
In an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said he went to Russia to tell the Kremlin to “stop screwing with American elections,” and to get out of Ukraine, Crimea and Syria.
The Louisiana senator went on to say that he “exchanged words” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who he called a “bully” and a “wise-ass.”
“It got testy at times,” Kennedy said later in the interview. “They, of course, deny everything. And I expected them to.”
Russia struck the senator as an oligarchy focused on one man: President Vladimir Putin.
“They don’t have a political philosophy,” Kennedy said. “I mean, what’s the political philosophy of the mafia?”
“The last time that the Russian government embraced Western values and democracy was never,” he said. “We’re not going to convert their political leadership. We’re going to have to contain them. And the only way to contain them, you don’t have to be ugly about it, but you’ve got to be very, very firm.”
“Dealing with Putin is like hand-feeding a shark,” the Louisianan Republican continued. “You can do it, but you have to do it very, very carefully.”
Bolduan asked Kennedy if he left the meeting with Lavrov and other Kremlin officials “any more confident that the upcoming [American] election will happen free of Russian interference” — and the senator responded with an earnest “I don’t know.”
Watch below, via CNN:
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