Sen. Lindsey Graham pans Biden performance at ‘disaster’ Putin summit

Sen. Lindsey Graham said that President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin showed that Biden “has no idea who Putin is.”MediaPunch / BACKGRID

President Biden’s face-to-face meeting Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland was a “disaster” that showed the American leader “has no idea who Putin is,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Wednesday.

“Here’s what Biden doesn’t understand: Putin could give a damn on what you think about him,” Graham told “Fox News Primetime”. “The only thing he’s going to respond to is when you threaten his power, and I saw nothing coming out of the summit threatening Putin’s power.”

Biden harped on the issue of Putin’s international standing in a news conference following the summit, telling reporters at one point that “I’m confident it matters to him.” The president raised the matter in relation to recent cyberattacks against fuel distributor Colonial Pipeline and meat processing company JBS, as well as the ongoing imprisonment of opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

“When you run a country that does not abide by international norms, and yet you need those international norms to be somehow managed so that you can participate in the benefits that flow from them, it hurts you,” the president said.

Graham disagreed, arguing that Putin “wants people to believe, ‘If you don’t do what I say or you screw with me, I will screw with your election.'”

“Putin is complimented when you call him a killer,” he added while discussing the Navalny case.

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin greeting each other before the summit in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16, 2021.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Republican lawmaker also reacted to Biden’s revelation that he had given Putin a list of 16 economic sectors defined as “critical infrastructure” that should be off-limits to would-be cybercriminals, calling the action “absurd.”

“I’ve got 16 parts of my economy that I consider to be no-go zones. What about the rest of America’s economy?” Graham asked. “So, this thing was a disaster.”

Graham went on to blast Biden’s claim to reporters that “China is trying very hard to project itself as a responsible and — and a very, very forthcoming nation” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“China is not trying hard to be a good member of the family of nations,” the senator said. “They’re never going to let us into that lab [Wuhan Institute of Virology] until we make the pain so great they have to let us into the lab.

“So, my belief is that Joe Biden, President Biden, doesn’t understand what makes China and Russia tick,” Graham continued. “You can’t shame these people. You have to stand up to them and hit them where it hurts, and in Putin’s case, let’s let the entire world know how much he’s enriched himself at the expense of the Russian people. It’s there to be shown … The only way you can get his attention is to put his oil and gas industry at risk and to put his personal fortune at risk. If you really want to get his attention, you need to make it about him, not about the view of him by others.”