John McCain understands why "America's friends" are "unsettled" by Donald Trump: He's "unsettled many Americans as well’’

The Republican senator urged a top U.S ally not to abandon its longstanding relationship because of Trump

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 30, 2017 3:50PM (EDT)

 (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Lucas Jackson/Photo montage by Salon)
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Lucas Jackson/Photo montage by Salon)

Sen. John McCain of Arizona has been a longstanding Republican critic of President Donald Trump, but his recent comments to an Australian audience are harsh even by the self-declared maverick's standards.

"I realize that some of President Trump’s actions and statements have unsettled America’s friends. They have unsettled many Americans as well," McCain told the attendees assembled by the United States Studies Centre in Sydney. The Republican then begged an audience that included two former Australian prime ministers to sustain the alliance between the U.S. and Australia during the Trump presidency."There is real debate under way now in my country about what kind of role America should play in the world and, frankly, I don’t know how this debate will play out," he admitted, according to a report from the Associated Press.

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"I realize that I come to Australia at a time when many are questioning whether America is still committed to these values," McCain said. "And you are not alone. Other American allies have similar doubts these days. And this is understandable."

McCain poignantly added, "But I do believe — and I don’t think I'm exaggerating here — that the future of the world will turn to a large extent on how this debate in America is resolved. That’s why I and others are fighting so hard to ensure that America stands by our allies and remains an active, principled leader in the world."

This isn't the first time that McCain has run interference on behalf of the United States with Australia. After Trump got into an infamously heated exchange with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, McCain contacted Ambassador Joe Hockey and (as quoted in a statement) conveyed to him "my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance." He added that Australia's "American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honor the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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