Top Senate GOPer distances from Trump, calls Putin 'thug'

McConnell Putin's a thug US is exceptional

Trump had brushed off Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's characterization of Putin as a "killer" in a recent interview, responding, "We've got a lot of killers".

But McConnell didn't explicitly criticize Trump's stance.

Demonstrators support a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle that grants a nationwide temporary restraining order against the presidential order to ban travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on February 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Then President-elect Trump appears with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on a visit to the U.S. Capitol. The administration is following the court order, as I understand it. "And I'm going to set up a commission to be headed by Vice President Mike Pence, and we're going to look at it very carefully".

"I respect a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with him". "We've got a lot of killers".

"I'm not going to critique the president's every utterance, but I do think America is exceptional", McConnell said. "I think the states can take a look at this issue", McConnell said.

McConnell also questioned Trump's claim, expressed in a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House earlier this month, that Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSkeptical McConnell distances from Trump on Russian Federation, travel ban Will Lady Gaga get political at the Super Bowl?

"I can speak for myself, and I already have about my feelings about Vladimir Putin and the way the Russians operate", McConnell said.

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"I don't think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that".

Pressed for data to back up his unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud in the 2016 election, Trump claimed "many people" agree with him.

The Kentucky Republican also spoke against Putin and reunification of Crimea. "And, no, I would not have characterized it that whole way", he said.

"The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart".

"I think proper vetting is important, but there is a fine line here between proper vetting and interfering with the kind of travel or suggesting a religious test". And we all follow court orders. "And we need to avoid doing that kind of thing".

McConnell slightly distanced himself from Trump's comments, asserting that Americans understood the different between American democracy and Russia's semi-autocratic style of government.

McConnell, however, praised Trump for his Supreme Court pick. In a second tweet, he said the United States should lift sanctions on Russian Federation only if it ends its violations in Ukraine.