White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates criticized former President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, referring to them as "nauseating fearful pigs" after Trump openly praised Putin, who this week ordered Russian forces to invade Ukraine.
Writing on Twitter, Bates said both Trump and Putin "hate what America stands for" and observed that their "every action is driven by their own weakness and insecurity" even as "innocent people lose their lives."
Trump had earlier called Putin "pretty smart" for the way he orchestrated the predawn invasion and approached criticisms from world leaders in the preceding weeks.
Speaking at a political fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Wednesday evening, Trump said:
“I mean, he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country — literally a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in."
Trump's remarks are the second time this week he has heaped praise on Putin for his intellect.
Trump had been criticized earlier this week for praising Putin's action, referring to him as a “genius” for moving troops to Ukraine’s eastern border.
Trump said that Putin is “very savvy” and made a “genius” move when he signed a decree recognizing Luhansk and Donetsk, parts of Eastern Ukraine, as independent entities and claimed that he was moving troops to regions held by Russian separatists in a bid to ensure “peace.”
Given these facts, many concurred with Bates' assessment.
Trump's statements were earlier criticized by Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, his former national security adviser.
Speaking to reporters earlier this week, McMaster said Putin is "certainly not someone to be praised" and stressed that "what we ought to be encouraged by is the reaction across the free world."
McMaster has himself been highly critical of Trump for years and was ousted from the Trump administration after telling a forum in Germany that it is "incontrovertible" that Russians had meddled in the 2016 presidential election, a fact that Trump has openly rejected amid criticism of his ties to the Russian government.
Trump's former Chief of Staff John Kelly drew mockery for expressing his own "disbelief" that Trump would praise Putin at such a time.