WASHINGTON— Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is putting former President Donald Trump’s influence with Republican politicians to the test. The majority of them are treating him similarly to how he does Russian despot Vladimir Putin: with a desire for distance but a refusal to criticize.
While Trump moved closer to denouncing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Saturday night, he maintained a favorable view of the Russian leader. “It happens to be a man who is simply determined, who is driven to put it together,” Trump remarked during a South Carolina political rally.
The Russia-Ukraine war: What you need to know Monday
This comes on the heels of a Thursday Fox News interview in which host Sean Hannity attempted — and failed — to elicit anything except admiration for Putin from Trump.
The crisis in Ukraine has precipitated a rare schism between Trump and several Republican elites who supported him throughout his presidency but now see moral and political imperatives in vilifying Putin. Nonetheless, there are definite limitations to the extent to which they will go in defying Trump.
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