White House press secretary Jen Psaki said calling for the assassination of Vladimir Putin is “not the position of the United States government” on Friday after Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) suggested someone close to the Russian president should “take this guy out.”
On Thursday, Graham tweeted asking if there is a “Brutus in Russia,” referring to Marcus Junius Brutus, the Roman politician who led the conspiracy that resulted in the assassination of Julius Caesar.
“Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?” Graham added, referencing Claus von Stauffenberg, a German army officer who unsuccessfully tried to kill Adolf Hitler.
“The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service,” Graham said one week after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?
The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.
You would be doing your country – and the world – a great service.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 4, 2022
Asked about Graham’s remarks at a press briefing on Friday, Psaki said: “That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you’d hear come from the mouths of anybody working in this administration.”
Psaki was also asked to respond to Graham’s suggestion that a diplomatic solution with Russia is impossible with Putin in power. She replied: “President Putin has the ability to deescalate.”
“We have left the door open for months now to be engaged through deescalation,” Psaki said. “But no, we are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or regime change. That is not the policy of the United States.”
Graham’s tweet calling for Putin’s assassination sparked outcry among several other members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said it was an “exceptionally bad idea,” and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) said the comments were ““irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged,” while Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said, “Seriously, wtf?”
Amid the backlash, Graham’s communications director, Kevin Bishop, noted that the senator previously said on NewsMax that he was “okay with a coup to remove Putin as well.”
“Basic point, Putin has to go,” Bishop wrote in a Tweet. “He also noted it will be — has to be — the Russian people who do it. They control the ‘off ramp’ to this ordeal.”