- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that the pursuit of ties between the Trump administration and Russian spies looked like a “witch hunt of the days of McCarthyism.”

Mr. Lavrov took notice of the criticism members of the Trump administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, suffered for meeting with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, as well as a CNN report that Mr. Kislyak was recruiting spies.

“I can refer to a quote spread in the media today: all of this looks very much like a witch hunt or the days of McCarthyism, which we long thought have passed in the US, a civilized country,” said Mr. Lavrov, according to report by RT.

The foreign minister referred to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s hunt in the 1950s for communist traitors inside the U.S. government.

U.S. President Trump used similar language in a Twitter post Thursday about the attacks on Mr. Sessions, who top Democrats have called on to resign over meeting as a senator last year with Mr. Kislyak.

“It is a total ‘witch hunt!’ ” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Mr. Lavrov said that Russia would not respond with the same treatment for U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft.

“Kislyak is accused of talking to American politicians who were in opposition to the administration of then-President Barack Obama,” he said. “That is the essence of these accusations, to be honest.”

Mr. Lavrov said that if Russia treated Mr. Tefft the same way, the results would be “quite an amusing picture.”

“Relationships are maintained in the form of meetings, talks, contacts with both executive officials [from the current administration] and with politicians, public figures, non-governmental organizations. This practice has never been disputed,” Mr. Lavrov said.

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

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