SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A Bay Area professor is now in the middle of the Russia controversy. The government of President Vladimir Putin is looking to question Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor who is also a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.
"Vladimir Putin doesn't like me. He doesn't like what I write about him. He doesn't like what I say about him," said McFaul. "This is an act of intimidation against me."
After Trump and Putin's one-on-one meeting earlier this week in Helsinki, Putin's words came as no surprise. But it was the president's public response that surprised and disappointed McFaul.
"Just lamentable is my real reaction to the White House," said McFaul. "When given the opportunity to categorically reject the moral equivalency between a legitimate indictment -- with lots of data and evidence to support it from Mr. Mueller -- with a crazy scheme, with no relationship to facts and reality, the White House refused to do that."
Ambassador McFaul said that he has hired an attorney and is considering all legal options, although the State Department said that it is highly unlikely they would ever turn over a current or former diplomat to a foreign government.
"I can't answer on behalf of the White House with regard to that. But what I can tell you is that the overall assertions that come out of the Russian government are absolutely absurd," said Heather Dauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department.
Recently, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee-Sanders sounded less sure of the Trump administration's policies.
"The President also sees this as an opportunity, as he said many times, to be able to work with Russia ," said Huckabee-Sanders.
Ambassador McFaul said that the President's words could have a chilling effect on people considering a career in foreign service. He said he spent his life serving the country and hopes that it will now do the same for him.
"It's going to create problems for me in the long run. And my government, I hope today, will stand up and categorically swat this back. And by my government, I mean my president of the United States of America" said McFaul.
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