Interviews

Sen. John McCain on US diplomat caught bashing EU

Lawmaker says he understands Victoria Nuland's frustration

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You know, it`s the tape that is getting a lot of people bent out of shape. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue, and, you know (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the E.U.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: That`s apparently the voice of a top U.S. diplomat, Victoria Nuland, blasting the European Union`s handling of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The State Department suspects that Russia taped the conversation, leaked on YouTube.

Her F-bomb was pretty frank. Many look at is as something we should be seeing more of out of Washington.

What`s the always very frank Arizona Senator John McCain think of all of this?

He joins us right now.

Senator, what do you make of what she said?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R - AZ: I think she`s...

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: I think she`s right.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: Although, obviously, she regrets that this was exposed.

But I -- and I like her very much. I think she does a great job. But she probably should have been more aware that everything that is said, communicated is -- is listened in on by our -- by our Russian friends.

But what she was referring was, there was a period of time where the E.U. was -- should have been much more aggressive in offering membership and economic assistance to Ukraine, while the president, Yanukovych, was kind of moving either way.

CAVUTO: Right.

MCCAIN: And the fact that they failed moved Yanukovych over more towards Putin. So, I understand her frustration.

But I can assure you her phone calls from now on are going to be much more -- much different vocabulary.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Yeah. Yeah.

But the one thing, though, that was relayed there and I guess the reason why presumably the Russians leaked it is maybe it`s to sow some divide between us and the European Union. But she is not the first.

We have seen Democratic administrations, Republican administrations express consternation in dealing with the European community in general, the European Union more to the point, and that they`re very taxing. Bill Clinton had that view of them. President Bush had that view of them. I know you now and then represented -- said when Europeans in particular go after American companies, you`ve had that view of them. So, what do we do about them?

MCCAIN: Well, I think we understand that they are a group of people that there are significant influence from country that are far more socialistic than we are, which, by the way, I believe that you could trace the stagnation of many of their economies directly to that.

And they take a much more liberal stance. For example, they -- there are elements within the E.U. that are out and out anti-Israel or certainly behave in a way that they seem to excuse Palestinian behavior and home in on Israel.

But there are other good things they do, the E.U. If Ukraine were taken in the E.U., and E.U. does it right, that would be huge, because that would deprive Russia of what Putin believes is the fundamental - the fundamental part of the Russian empire. Remember, Russia...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Now, you mentioned Putin.

MCCAIN: Russia began in Kiev.

CAVUTO: Right.

MCCAIN: Yes.

CAVUTO: But you mentioned Putin, and I was thinking of you, Senator, when I heard Bob Costas -- I don`t know if you`ve started watching the Olympics. They`re on another network. I suggest you don`t waste the time.

But he really was praising Vladimir Putin as all but a great statesman, a peacemaker. What did you think of that?

MCCAIN: I thought it was that Bob Costas ought to stick to sports, because he obviously didn`t know what the hell he was talking about.

Look, this is the same guy...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: This is being recorded, Senator. This is just like that State Department...

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: He didn`t -- he didn`t know what he was talking about.

I mean, this guy is an autocrat. He ethnically cleansed -- or not ethnically -- but cleansed Chechnya, radicalized that place. He -- he is - - while we`re talking about removal of chemical weapons, Mr. Costas forget to mention that planeloads of Russian military equipment are landing in Damascus. They`re killing Syrian men, women and children.

The guy is causing all kind of problems to every country on the periphery of Russia. He -- he -- well, he is what he is. He is an old colonel, KGB apparatchik, nothing more, nothing less. And Mr. Costas giving him this kind of credit is -- borders on the ludicrous.

CAVUTO: So, you`re not making a general damning indictment of people who read prompter for a living weighing in on the issues of our day, right?

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: Not at all. And I have admired Bob Costas` knowledge of sports and his in-depth analyses from time to time. I watch his program quite often.

But, on this one, Bob, stick to the hockey games, will you?

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: OK.

Senator John McCain, thank you very, very much.

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