McCain Blasts Tillerson for Suggesting Russia Could Have ‘Right Approach’ in Syria

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Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) roasted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Sunday for suggesting Russia might have the "right approach" in resolving the Syrian conflict, saying he had "divorced a fundamental of American democracy."

Tillerson told reporters on Friday that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin spent a significant amount of time at their meeting Friday in Germany discussing Syria, where the Russians back the Bashar al-Assad regime and the U.S. backs anti-Assad rebels.

"And I would tell you that, by and large, our objectives are exactly the same," Tillerson said. "How we get there, we each have a view. But there's a lot more commonality to that than there are differences … Maybe they've got the right approach and we've got the wrong approach."

After CBS host John Dickerson played the audio clip on "Face The Nation," McCain said, "You can't make that up."

"These are the same people that use precision-guided weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo where sick and wounded people are," McCain said. "Preparing myself mentally to be on this show, I said, ‘John, you're not going to get upset. You're not going to get emotional.' But I've met the White [Helmets]. I know what the slaughter has been like."

McCain added the Russians knew that Assad would use chemical weapons against his own people.

"And to say that maybe we've got the wrong approach?" McCain asked incredulously.

He added he "agonized" over whether to confirm Tillerson to lead the State Department because of his past comments about Russia.

"He has divorced a fundamental of American democracy. The reason why we are the shining city on the hill as Ronald Reagan used to say is because they look up to us because of our principles and our beliefs and our advocacy for freedom. That's what America's supposed to be all about," McCain said. "Not whether they're right and we're wrong. We know who's right and who's wrong here."

"Do you regret that vote for Tillerson?" Dickerson asked.

"Sometimes I do, but I'm still torn by the fact that the American people chose this president and he ought to be able to have his team," McCain said, adding he confirmed Barack Obama's chosen Cabinet for that reason in 2009.

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