Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff is shocked that he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper interviewed John F. Kelly on Thursday and asked the retired Marine general his opinion of comments by Trump and other Republicans that seem to support Putin’s decision to invade the neighboring nation.
Trump himself said Wednesday night that invading Ukraine was “pretty smart” of Putin.
Kelly has criticized his former boss’s ethics before, and Tapper asked him how he feels now about prominent Republicans praising Putin and even calling the Russian leader a “genius.”
“What’s your response when you hear that?” Tapper asked Kelly.
“Disbelief,” Kelly said, as shown in the video below. Putin is a tyrant, he added. “He’s a murderer. He has attacked an innocent country whose only crime is that they want to be free and democratic, and they’re working in that direction and have been working in that direction.”
Kelly pointed out that Ukraine has been a good partner to the West in the last three decades.
“They have been a cooperative country,” he said. “They gave up, on our word, the nuclear weapons that the old Soviet Union left behind. They participated with other U.S./NATO allies. They participated in operations — peacekeeping operations in Africa and Afghanistan, places like that. They were part of the partnership for peace. Although not members of NATO, they worked alongside NATO in these various good operations.”
Kelly had a hard time praising Putin’s intellect under the circumstances.
“You know, is Putin smart? Yes. Tyrants are smart. They know what they’re doing,” Kelly said. “But that’s — I can’t imagine why someone would look at what’s happening there and see it as anything other than a criminal act. I don’t get it, Jake.”