"I wouldn't pay much attention to them," the Senate minority leader said when asked about Reps. Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday sharply dismissed lawmakers in his own party who are bashing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and supporting Russian leader Vladimir Putin, disparaging them as the “lonely” fringe.
“The vast majority of the Republican Party writ large, both in the Congress across the country, are totally behind the Ukrainians and urging the president to ... take these steps [to help Ukraine] quicker. Yeah, to be bolder. There may be a few lonely voices off the side. I wouldn’t pay much attention to them.”
McConnell was responding to a question from CBS host Margaret Brennan, who quizzed him about what Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has called the “Putin wing of the Republican Party.”
Brennan asked: “Think she’s referring to Congressman Cawthorn, who called Zelenskyy a thug? Marjorie Taylor Greene said the U.S. should not fund a war the Ukrainians cannot possibly win.”
McConnell acknowledged “lonely voices out there that are in a different place.” But he added: “Looking at Senate Republicans. I can tell you that I would have — had I been the majority leader — put this Ukraine supplemental [aid] up by itself. I think virtually every one of my members would have voted for it.”
Cawthorn was scolded last week by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for calling Zelenskyy a thug and for baselessly insisting the Ukrainian government was “incredibly corrupt and incredibly evil.” (The comments, dubbed in Russian, have made Cawthorn a propaganda star on state-sponsored Russian TV.)
“Madison is wrong,” McCarthy said at a press conference. “If there’s any thug in this world, it’s Putin.”
As for Greene, she last week lashed out at a reporter who asked if her remarks and actions “represent a sympathy for Russia and the Kremlin” in its invasion of Ukraine.
“I don’t have any sympathy for Putin and Russia,” Greene insisted.
She has also attacked “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine, parroting Putin’s broad characterization of the country in a vain attempt to justify his invasion. She was one of only eight lawmakers in the House last week to vote against legislation to revoke normal trade relations with Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
McConnell Sunday pushed for more aid for Ukraine.
“I think we ought to go into this believing the Ukrainians can actually win,” he urged. “And the way they win is for us to get these defensive weapons systems to them as rapidly as possible.”
He said he was “perplexed as to why we couldn’t get the Polish Russian MiGs into the country,” noting that the Ukrainians “have plenty of pilots who know how to fly” the fighter jets.