Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tried to downplay recent revelations about President Donald Trump's controversial relationship with the Russian government by arguing that no one outside the Washington political class cares about the potential scandal.
"When you get outside the Beltway, I don't see anyone concerned about this at all," Cruz told NBC News' Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press," according to NBC News.
"If you compare objectively, President Trump's policies to Russia compared to President Obama's policies to Russia — by any measure, President Obama was much easier, was much more gentler on Russia."
Cruz was responding to a report by The New York Times which revealed that Trump's decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey resulted in a counterintelligence investigation into whether the president was working for the Russian government, either intentionally or otherwise. There have already been concerns by special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump's firing of Comey constituted an act of obstruction of justice. Yet White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the story by The New York Times by saying "This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he's a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI. Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia," according to CNN.
Trump himself, characteristically, took to Twitter on Saturday to discuss his firing of Comey.
"Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!" Trump tweeted. He added, "...Funny thing about James Comey. Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike. After the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she was interviewed on July 4th Weekend, not recorded or sworn in, and where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie),...."
Trump continued in a quartet of follow up tweets, "....the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership and the way he handled the Clinton mess (not to mention his usurpation of powers from the Justice Department). My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop...... .....who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats - leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch!"
He added, "I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again! Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page, & more, all disgraced and/or fired and caught in the act. These are just some of the losers that tried to do a number on your President. Part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the 'insurance policy?' This is it!"
Although Trump has been unusually pro-Russia in his rhetoric, his policies toward Russia have not differed significantly from other administrations, a fact that President Barack Obama's former ambassador to Russia remarked upon during an interview with Salon in June.
"I can’t think of another case with any president, with any bilateral relationship, where you have just this giant gap between the administration’s policy and the president himself," McFaul told Salon. "It’s extraordinary. Time and time again we get new evidence to underscore the fact, right, including just recently when the president suggested that Russia should join the G7. To the best of my knowledge, that was not a policy that was discussed and treated and chewed on in the White House situation room: Does that make a policy recommendation for the president."