“Putin’s a former KGB agent. He’s a thug. He was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told CNN’s “State of the Union. “The Russians annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine and messed around in our elections. And no, I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”

Added Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, one of Trump’s Republican critics: “There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom living nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defence of his cronyism.

O’Reilly also asked Trump to back up his claim that some 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the election. Trump didn’t answer directly, but shifted to assert that immigrants in the U.S. illegally and dead people are on the voter rolls.

“It’s really a bad situation, it’s really bad,” Trump said.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the Nov. 8 election. Trump won the Electoral College vote but lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes to Clinton.

Trump recently announced on Twitter that he would call for a “major investigation” into voter fraud. He said during the Fox News interview that he will set up a commission to be headed by Vice-President Mike Pence and “we’re going to look at it very, very carefully.”

Asked earlier about Trump’s promised investigation, McConnell said he saw no federal role because states historically have handled voter fraud investigations. “I don’t think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that,” he said on CNN.

On other issues, Trump said in the interview that:

—California’s consideration of legislation to become a statewide sanctuary for people living in the country illegally is “ridiculous.” He suggested withholding federal funding as a possible punishment.

—Plans to enact a complete replacement for the Affordable Care Act could slip into next year. “I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year.”

—Living in the White House is “a surreal experience in a certain way, but you have to get over it, because there’s so much work to be done.”