US leaders are hitting out at Vladimir Putin after statements he made appeared to some to be anti-Semitic. The Russian president was defending his government in an interview with NBC News' Megyn Kelly Saturday when he said Jews may have been behind 2016 election meddling. "Repulsive Putin remark deserves to be denounced, soundly and promptly, by world leaders," Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut wrote on Twitter following the interview, per the Washington Post. Blumenthal's sentiment was echoed widely by fellow Democrats in Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and others.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that some Democratic legislators have directly demanded that President Trump take a tougher stance on Russia following its leader's comments. Putin critics have also assailed the leader for his apparent implication that Russian Jews aren't true Russians. "Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked," Putin said, referring to whoever was behind the meddling. Putin went on to suggest a string of other possibilities behind the election disruption, including France or Germany or even America itself. "Maybe the US paid them for this," he said. "How can you know that? I do not know, either."