Rubio blasts Trump's defence of Putin: 'We are not the same'

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday blasted President Donald Trump over his defence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During an interview Saturday with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Trump dismissed the label of Putin as “killer,” arguing that that the US was not “so innocent” itself.

In a tweet Sunday morning, the Florida senator pushed back by highlighting a history of suspicious deaths of political opponents under Putin’s regime. 

Trump’s defence of Putin on Saturday again forced top Republican leaders to distance themselves from the president.

“I can speak for myself, and I already have about Vladimir Putin and the way the Russians operate. I’m not going to critique every utterance of the president. I obviously don’t see the issue the same way he does,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said when asked about Trump’s remarks.

Putin has long provoked criticism from leaders across the American political spectrum for his human-rights abuses, including his stifling of the freedom of speech and expression, imprisonment of political prisoners, and interference in domestic and foreign elections. 

For his part, Rubio has been one of the most vocal Republican critics of Putin’s regime, though it’s unclear how much he is willing to break with the new administration.

Despite initially expressing hesitation over Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s friendly relationship with Russia, Rubio eventually voted to confirm Tillerson.

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