- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2016

Rep. Ryan Zinke said Friday that he agreed with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a better leader that President Obama.

“There is no doubt that for the Russian people Vladimir Putin is a more effective leader than our president is for the American people,” said Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana Republican and the first Navy SEAL to serve in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Zinke said that was how he interpreted Mr. Trump’s remarks, which have been sharply criticized by Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and her allies.

The former SEAL Team Six team leader cited Mr. Putin’s successes annexing Crimea, spreading Russian influence in Ukraine and planting the Russian flag at the North Pole, claiming sovereignty over a large portion of the Arctic Ocean.

On the other hand, Mr. Zinke said, America’s president sent $1.7 billion in cash to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

“That is outrageous,” he said.

“Do I agree with Putin? Absolutely not. He’s a tyrant,” said the congressman. “Russia has been an aggressor and is not operating in our best interest. They are operating in Russia’s interest.”

Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Trump’s remark about Mr. Putin being a better leader, which was made Wednesday at a forum on military issues, was unpatriotic, insulting and scary.

“That is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country, as well as to our commander in chief, it is scary because it suggests he will let Putin do what Putin wants to do and then make excuses for him,” she said.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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