Vladimir Putin outsmarted Barack Obama
BIARRITZ, France – President Donald Trump doubled down on his support Monday for Russia returning to the G-7, telling reporters gathered for the group’s annual meeting that he isn’t concerned about the political blow back of such a move on him.
Russia had been a member of the group – which at the time was known as the G-8 – but was ousted in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea. Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of bringing Russia back into the fold to ease negotiations on global issues.
Trump dismissed the notion that he would face criticism for advocating for Russia. Much of his presidency has been overshadowed by questions about Russian involvement in the 2016 election on his behalf. An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller found that neither Trump nor his campaign conspired with those efforts.
“I don’t do things for political reasons,” told reporters Monday.
“Is it good? Probably not. Maybe it is,” Trump said of allowing Russia to join the group of the most industrialized countries. “A lot of people say having Russia – which is a power – having them inside the room is better than having them outside the room.”
Minutes later, Trump re-upped a claim that Russia was dropped from the group because Russian President Vladimir Putin had “outsmarted” then President Barack Obama.
“He was outsmarted,” Trump said.
The decision to expel Russia was backed not only by the U.S. but also by the group’s other six member countries. The G-7 includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and Italy.
Trump has repeatedly heaped praise on Putin, telling a Russian television reporter as recently as June that Putin is “a great guy,” despite the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.