Republican senators say they are not moved by Fox News host Tucker Carlson's recent rants in favor of Russia's Vladimir Putin while deriding support of Ukraine.
Carlson has been on a tirade rationalizing Russia's aggression toward Ukraine and downplaying its relevance to U.S. national security.
But major Republican figures are not afraid of taking on Fox's top-rated host for what they believe is dangerous thinking, if not outright propaganda.
"I don't agree with those views," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, Politico reported Tuesday.
"[It's in] the U.S. interest, not just in Europe, but around the world, in not having countries decide, That belongs to us, we're going to go ahead and take it."
Carlson has attacked Republicans who are backing a stronger response to Russia moving nearly 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border.
He has claimed NATO has precipitated the crisis with Russia by expanding its membership to countries close to Russia and by seemingly showing support for nonmember Ukraine.
Carlson called Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, "ignorant" and said Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, was "a moron masquerading as a senator" and a "pompous neocon buffoon."
"I get great intel briefings, and we have trusted advisers that provide many points of view," Ernst said, Politico reported. "And I would say I'm pretty well-educated on this subject."
Former President Donald Trump told Newsmax Tuesday night that Russia likely will "make a move" on Ukraine — "not something that ever would have happened" during a Trump administration, noting President Joe Biden's weakness in dealing with Moscow.
Support for the Ukraine has strong bipartisan support and is backed up by a treaty the U.S. signed with Ukraine.
In 1994, the United States, Russia, and Britain became signatories to the Budapest Memorandum, obligating all three nations "to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine" and "to refrain from the threat or use of force."
In exchange for those guarantees, Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal, then comprising about 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads.
Ukraine fulfilled its bargain, but Russia has continually violated the Budapest agreement, including with its 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea.
And the U.S. has not fully fulfilled its pledge to support Ukraine, if it is attacked.
Politico said some GOP senators "rolled their eyes" after being asked about Carlson's rants.
"On individuals up here who are decision-makers, I don't hear any disagreement about the position Russia is in," Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Politico. "Russia is the aggressor.
"Ukraine has every right, as a sovereign nation, to have their borders respected. Russia's not doing that."
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said lawmakers' actions are more important than TV hosts' opinions.
"Our allies around the world — obviously after Afghanistan — are doubting our credibility, our reliability," Cornyn said.
Dick Morris, a veteran political strategist and Newsmax analyst, has worked on Ukrainian elections and believes Carlson is deceiving the public.
"He is smart enough to know Putin's threats, invasions, assassinations, and general interference against his neighboring countries had them begging for NATO membership and its protection," Morris said.
"He's also smart enough to know that China and Russia are not ever moving into Mexico or Canada, for the very good reason we don't interfere with them or threaten them like Russia does with their neighbors."
Morris worries that Tucker is engaging an appeasement of Putin similar to that was witnessed with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.
Carlson's pro-Putin efforts might not be wooing many GOP voters to support the Russian dictator. Last year, an Economist/YouGov poll found only 18% of Republicans approved of Putin.
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