OTR Interviews

McCain: The 'self-pity' Obama continues to exhibit is 'really kind of sad'

Sen. John McCain on why he has called the Obama administration's handling of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and Putin 'cowardly'


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 23, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator John McCain with razor-sharp words for the Obama administration, calling it "cowardly" in the handling of the Ukraine crisis. He joins us.

Nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Cowardly, why?

MCCAIN: Cowardly to not give these people weapons for which to defend themselves. I'm not positive that this wouldn't have happened, but I think if the Ukrainians had been giving what they were begging for rather than MREs -- I'm not making this up. They finally decided to give them MREs but they didn't want to fly them in so they leased German trucks to truck them in. I'm not making that up. Meanwhile, we see these weapons pouring across the border from Russia into eastern Ukraine. We won't give them any defensive weapons. They may have been able to succeed in moving those, quote, "rebels," as they are called, out of Ukraine and maybe this wouldn't have happened.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the backup of President Obama? Why wouldn't he want to do that?

MCCAIN: They didn't -- what I was told, they didn't want to provoke Vladimir Putin. The misreading of Vladimir Putin is the most amazing thing to me, that it is just boggles the mind. And when I say it's cowardly, I think it's cowardly not to help people who are begging to -- for our help to eject people who are invading their country. They've already dismembered a country by taking Crimea. Literally invading their country. These people that are in the country are, some of them are, quote, "Russian-speaking Ukrainians," but a hell of a lot of them are just Russians who have come in at the behest of Vladimir Putin to create unrest. If you continue to have that part of Ukraine in turmoil, their economy cannot recover. That's where the major industry is.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you stop Putin at this point?

MCCAIN: Oh, I think you slap sanctions, sector sanctions on. Send the weapons to these people, move -- reinvigorate our missile systems in Czech Republic and Poland. Move NATO troops into -- at least temporarily into areas that are more surrounding this area of the world where there is such unrest. And condemn our so-called European friends. Do you really think that the French are going to revoke the sale of those two helicopter carriers to the Russians who have openly said they could have gotten the Georgia operation done in 45 minutes with those carriers? The Europeans are not going to do anything until they are energy independent. Senator Holman (ph), Senator Barrasso and I put together a proposal that within three years we could get natural gas from Fargo, North Dakota, to Europe, and that will change the whole scenario. Until they are energy independent, the Europeans aren't going to do a damn thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, even with his own party, he has people objecting. Senator Feinstein objecting to him and his fundraiser. At least that's the way I read this. This is Senator Feinstein.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF.: I'm not going to tell the president what to do, but I think the world would very much respect his increased attention on this matter. And I think there ought to be increased attention.


MCCAIN: Well, he was out in California. She ought to be glad of that. But, look --


VAN SUSTEREN: -- out in California, you know what he said at a fundraiser today? He was talking, he said, I would love nothing more than a loyal and rationale opposition but that's not what we have right now. Essentially, saying the GOP is not loyal and is irrational.

MCCAIN: The self-pity that he continues to exhibit is really kind of sad, really. You know, I can't work with him at all. When is the last time he really called leaders of both parties together over at the White House, say, for a dinner, a social event, you know, that Reagan was best at, Clinton did, Bush did?

VAN SUSTEREN: Why isn't he?

MCCAIN: I cannot explain it except to say that he does not have this desire to have social interface with people and sit down and try to work things out. Right now, we he have got Ukraine. We have got the border.


MCCAIN: We have got Israel. We have got Iraq. We have got more problems, more crises than I have ever seen, both foreign and domestic. I said I have never seen more turmoil. Of course, everybody says -- I'm talking about turmoil in the world. I have never seen more.

VAN SUSTEREN: You might want to hear my "Off the Record" at the end of the show tonight. I know you have got a busy schedule. But you might want to hear what I have to say about that. And I do have something.

Anyway, Senator, nice to see you, sir.

MCCAIN: Thank you.