President Donald Trump believes Russian President Vladimir Putin would have been happier if former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election.
Trump, speaking to Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson, pushed back Wednesday against claims that the Kremlin wanted to help him win the presidency. Trump said such a claim is nonsensical because Clinton, in his view, would have made the U.S. weaker, something Putin would presumably like.
“We are the most powerful country in the world, and we are getting more and more powerful because I’m a big military person,” Trump said. “As an example, if Hillary had won, our military would be decimated. Our energy would be much more expensive.
“That’s what Putin doesn’t like about me,” he continued. “And that’s why I say, ‘Why would he want me?’ Because from day one, I wanted a strong military — he doesn’t want to see that.”
The president went on to say that, under his leadership, he wants the U.S. to expand oil fracking to make the country “self-supporting.”
“We’re going to be exporting energy — [Putin] doesn’t want that,” Trump explained to Robertson. “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 said many of his positions are the “exact opposite” of what Putin would want.
The president’s comments came just one day after his son Donald Trump Jr. released an email chain between himself and publicist Rob Goldstone regarding a 2016 meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The emails confirmed a New York Times report claiming the Trump Jr. was told he would receive damaging information from the Russian government about Clinton at the meeting. In the exchange, Trump Jr. said he would “love” to get his hands on the alleged dirt and Goldstone claimed the information was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday, Trump Jr. admitted he would have handled the meeting differently if he could do it again.
“In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently,” he said. “Again, and this is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building it up in the press.”
Trump Jr. told Hannity that the meeting was nothing more than “opposition research.” However, he said the sit-down “went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn’t what the meeting was actually about.”
For his part, Hannity slammed the media for making such a big deal out of the previously unreported encounter. He said the U.S. is currently plagued by the biggest “informational crisis” in the history of the country.