Mar 2, 2022 - Axios Events

Tim Scott responds to Trump's praise of Putin

Margaret Talev and Sen. Tim Scott
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) speaking to Axios' Margaret Talev.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) during an Axios event Wednesday responded to former President Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, saying "there is nothing smart" about invading another country.

Yes, but: Scott stopped short of criticizing Trump for referring to Putin as "very savvy" and for referring to Putin's move to claim two breakaway "republics" in eastern Ukraine as "genius."

What he's saying: "There is nothing smart about invading countries. Every single American should stand on the side of the freedom-loving, liberty-defending Ukrainians," Scott told Axios.

Yes, but: Scott defended Trump's position that the invasion would not have happened under his watch.

  • "This happened in 2014 under President Obama and it's happening now under President Biden," Scott said at the event.
  • "What this reflects and reinforces is the importance of strong American leadership on a global stage," Scott said. "When we do not present ourselves strong, those leaders who want to present themselves as even stronger do so when we apparently have weaker leadership on the issues facing our nation and our country."

Context: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), who also represents South Carolina, on Thursday called Trump's comments a "mistake," according to CNN.

  • "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," Graham said.

Scott is reportedly in the mix to be Trump's running mate if Trump runs for president in 2024, but the senator told Axios he's focused on South Carolina.

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