President Donald Trump made a convoluted argument that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have preferred Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 election because she’s weaker on energy and the military.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump bragged that Putin called him a “genius,” a point that contrasted deeply with the Russia president’s wariness of Clinton, whom he blamed for encouraging opposition to him during the 2011 Russian parliamentary election, among other perceived slights.
But in an interview with Christian Broadcast Network on Wednesday, Trump argued that Putin would have actually rather had Clinton as president because America was producing more energy under the Trump administration.
“Why would he want me?” Trump asked. “From day one, I wanted a strong military, he doesn’t want to see that. And from day one, I want fracking and everything else to get energy prices low and to create tremendous energy. We’re going to be self-supporting, we just about are now, we’re going to be exporting energy — he doesn’t want that. He would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills. He would much rather have that because energy prices would go up and Russia as you know relies very much on energy.”
Trump’s claim is questionable considering the long history of animosity between Putin and the former secretary of state.
After proposing a relationship reset in 2009 when President Barack Obama took office, relations between the US and Russia cooled as Putin began instituting more hardline policies in Russia and accused Clinton of seeking regime change in Moscow.
Clinton, for her part, was reportedly sceptical of Putin’s intentions throughout her tenure as secretary of state.
“He was a KGB agent — by definition he doesn’t have a soul,” Clinton said, according to The Washington Post.
Numerous reports from media outlets reported that Putin favoured Trump over Clinton, whom he viewed as far less friendly, and oversaw the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in an effort to swing the presidential election in Trump’s favour.
In recent months, Trump has largely avoided television interviews with traditional media outlets, restricting his media access to a brief joint-press conferences and interviews with friendlier outlets like CBN and Fox News.