Michael A. McFaul is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of political science, and director and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. From January 2012 to February 2014, he served as the US ambassador to the Russian Federation. Before becoming ambassador, he served for three years as a special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council. McFaul joined Fox News Radio's Guy Benson and Marie Harf to discuss U.S.-Russian relations and more.
On his thoughts about the Trump-Putin Summit this summer: My general take is that U.S.-Russian relations have not been this bad since deep into the Cold War. I think you go to go back even into the 1960's to remember a time when things were so confrontation. Some things are better some things are worse. We could go through that list if you're interested, but I'm not sure that we're better off than we were at the end of the Cold War... Let me add though because I think it is important for your listeners to understand. I actually think the Trump administration's policy on Russia is pretty good. In fact, I think in some ways it's better than the Obama administration policy. (1:34)
On John Bolton laying a wreath at the site of the slaying of an opposition leader in Moscow Tuesday: I think it was the right thing to do. Boris Nemtsov, by the way, was a friend of mine, a very close friend of mine for 25 years or so. It was horrible he was assassinated just 100 yards from the Kremlin wall. Still to this day, we know who pulled the trigger, but we don't know exactly who ordered that trigger to be pulled. Our government and our country and I think anybody who cares about democracy and human rights has to stand up and push back and do symbolic things like Mr. Bolton did yesterday. So I think it was exactly the right thing to do. (5:14)
On how U.S. should respond to Saudi Arabia: The first piece to get right, I think, is the analytic discussion about our bilateral relationship. I knew Jamal. I didn't know him well. We used to do work with him. He spoke here at Stanford just a year ago and it is horrible what happened to him. In reaction you hear a lot of people say, 'Well this is horrible, but we have all these interests with Saudi Arabia.' Well, let's dig into those interests a little bit because in every bilateral relationship it takes two to tango. There are mutual dependencies here, not just a one-way street. I would argue in this relationship we have a lot more leverage than we think we do. (7:54)
On his sense with Russian interference during the midterms: With respect to what they do in social media it's clear that they are full steam ahead. In fact, the budget has sort of gone up. We just learned from the Mueller indictment that the internet research agency is marching forward and the project there is to amplify polarization in American society. (11:30)