Senator John McCain (R-AZ), has become one of the most vocal detractors of President Trump from within their shared Republican Party. Most recently, McCain criticized the President’s assertions that the Charlottesville, Virginia, violence was the result of misdeeds by “both sides.”
Despite McCain’s defense of groups opposed to Nazis, a report from 2013 by Business Insider reveals that the Arizona senator traveled to Ukraine to support the Svoboda Party and its leader–both of which have been accused of anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism.
McCain was photographed beside Svoboda Party leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, a controversial figure who has gained media attention for remarks perceived as anti-Semitic. Tyahnybok has repeatedly spoken out against the influence of Jews in Ukrainian politics.
The Svoboda Party was originally founded in 1995 and was then known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine. Their logo was an icon resembling the swastika. It has since changed its name to the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda.” The word svoboda means “freedom.”
Svoboda is a nationalist party that many associate with the far-right. In its platforms and public perception, it is similar to the “alt-right” groups McCain accused of “hate and bigotry” on Twitter.
Nevertheless, the decades-long member of the US Senate demonstrated a close relationship with Svoboda when he went to Ukraine to make a speech in the party’s favor. McCain told a crowd, “Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better.”
The Svobodan leader has called on Ukraine to fight against a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” and to stop “criminal activities” of “organized Jewry.” Tyahnybok also supports the printing of Ukrainians’ ethnicity on their passports.
The anti-Jewish sentiment promoted by Svoboda has led thousands of Ukrainian Jews to leave the county and relocate to Israel, as reported by Vice Media. Despite the hidden undercurrent of anti-Semitism, Svoboda has gained considerable influence in the Ukrainian government, with numerous seats in parliament and victories in local offices.
Svoboda is not the only association over which McCain has been criticized. As The Daily Caller observed, the McCain Institute has taken large donations from contributors whose values are seemingly at odds with McCain’s–most notably George Soros. The Hungarian billionaire, who is well known for his support of left-wing causes, gave the McCain Institute $100,000.
Other significant donations include $1 million from Saudi Arabia, $100,000 from a Moroccan company accused of exploitation, and $100,000 from Teneo–a firm with ties to Bill Clinton. Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist, calls the activities of the McCain Institute a “real conflict of interest” and has compared it to The Clinton Foundation.
McCain’s Twitter comments against Trump come after the President took issue with McCain’s record on health care during an infrastructure press conference Tuesday, as covered by CNBC. Trump also used the press conference as an opportunity to answer questions related to the Charlottesville tragedy.
The Arizona senator criticized Trump for drawing a moral equivalency between the two clashing sides in Charlottesville, ignoring the violence of the left-wing Antifa covered by The Daily Wire. McCain’s comments are in stark contrast to his support of one of the most notorious anti-Semitic political parties in the Ukraine and Europe.