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Kaine: Trump won’t call out Assad because of coziness with Russia

The Trump administration is so “cozy” with Russia that officials are unwilling to firmly criticize Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Sen. Tim Kaine said Wednesday.

“I worry they are trying to be cozy with Russia — so cozy with Russia that they are unwilling to call out Russia’s henchman, Bashar al-Assad, who is only able to carry out these atrocities because of the support from the Russians and the Iranians,” the Virginia Democrat told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Wednesday on “New Day.”

Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was speaking the day after dozens — including many children — were killed in a chemical weapons attack, one of the worst the country has seen during its civil war. Assad’s regime has been blamed for the attack.

Moscow has supported the Assad regime, and its military involvement has helped Assad remain in power. On Wednesday, the Kremlin said Russia will continue military operations in the country despite the chemical weapons attack.

The Trump administration has taken a more lenient stance toward Assad, breaking with the Obama administration’s past calls for him to abdicate power. Speaking about Tuesday’s gas attack, the White House condemned Assad but also lay blame on the Obama administration.

“These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday.

But Kaine said the President needs to “own up” to his new role instead of always blaming his predecessor.

“That statement of President Trump’s is rich. He is president now. He’s commander in chief,” Kaine said. “When something happens and he tries to blame President Obama, give me a break.”

“He is the President now,” he added. “He has to put on his big boy pants and own up to the job.”