Hours before his meeting with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump claimed relations between the U.S. and Russia had “never been worse” — and blamed the “foolishness and stupidity” of his own country for the breakdown.
Ignoring Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Putin’s support for President Bashar Assad in Syria, and the Russian chemical attack in the U.K. earlier this year, Trump tweeted: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”
Trump’s claim comes days after FBI special counsel Robert Mueller issued indictments for 12 Russian military intelligence operatives for hacking the Democratic National Committee, releasing secret files, and targeting election administrators at the state level ahead of the 2016 vote.
Trump’s view that Washington is to blame for deteriorating relations with Moscow aligns with the message put out by the Kremlin.
Moscow has consistently denied any involvement in the 2016 election, and has instead blamed the Obama administration for increased tensions in recent years.
Trump has refused to directly criticize Putin, despite his Justice Department issuing charges against the Russian operatives. He has also said he admires Putin's autocratic style of leadership.
In a thinly-veiled critique of the president, Hillary Clinton Monday questioned Trump’s close relationship with the Russian leader:
In a Piers Morgan interview onboard Air Force One broadcast Monday morning, Trump said that while Putin “probably is” a ruthless person, he felt they could still be friends.
“I don’t know him… I met him a couple of times… I think we could probably get along very well,” Trump is quoted as saying on “Good Morning Britain.”
Cover image: Donald Trump and Melania Trump arrive at Helsinki International Airport on July 15, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)