Lindsey Graham Publicly Scolds Trump In Latest Flip-Flop

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently criticized former President Donald Trump for referring to Russian leader Vladimir Putin as “genius” in connection to recent aggressive actions taken against Ukraine. Trump made the “genius” remark before Russia recently launched its ongoing full-fledged invasion of Ukraine but after Russia had already been militarily antagonizing the country — but even that doesn’t somehow give Trump an out, however slight. After Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Trump stood by the remarks, insisting at the latest installment of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that the “problem is not that Putin is smart, which, of course, he’s smart… The problem is that our leaders are dumb… and so far, allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity.”

Besides the fact that the “assault on humanity” language doesn’t exactly sound like something Trump came up with on his own, there’s no scenario in which you’ve somehow got to hand it to Putin for launching a war of aggression that has killed thousands of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands — and this shouldn’t be difficult! As Graham put it, referring to Trump’s remarks:

‘I think that was a mistake. I think I know what he was trying to say, you know, going into the Donbas. But, no. Let’s just make it clear, Putin’s not a genius, he’s a war criminal.’

Trump made his original “genius” remark in reference to the decision by Russian authorities to roll out recognition for two independent countries on Ukrainian territory and announce troop deployment plans for the regions, which coincide with parts of the Donbas area to which Graham referred. Trump commented that “Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper… That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.” It’s worth noting that, at the time of Trump’s remarks, observers had already been warning that Russian aggression appeared to be angled towards the more expansive violence that has since begun to unfold. Trump clearly didn’t care enough to take these warnings into serious consideration, whether or not he was competent enough to grasp the nature of the sobering assessments. Graham has introduced a nonbinding resolution supporting a complaint that Ukrainian authorities filed with the International Criminal Court, seeking accountability for Russian atrocities in Ukraine. Read more at this link.