President Donald Trump, under fire for being too cozy with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he could be Putin's "worst enemy" if their relationship deteriorates and called predecessor Barack Obama a "patsy for Russia."
Trump told CNBC in an interview airing Friday he had been "far tougher on Russia" than possibly any U.S. president, ever, pointing to his recent attack on Germany for their proposed second natural gas pipeline deal with Russia.
"Look at the sanctions I've put on. Look at the diplomats I threw out," Trump said. "Look at all of the things that I've done. Nobody else did what I've done. Obama didn't do it. Obama was a patsy for Russia. He was a total patsy."
Trump referenced Obama's hot mic moment in 2012 where he told then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more "flexibility" after his election was over, calling Obama's statement "stupid."
"Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia is a positive, not a negative," Trump said. "With that being said, if that doesn't work out, I'll be the worst enemy he's ever had. The worst he's ever had. I think he knows that, though. I'll be his worst nightmare, but I don't think it'll be that way. I actually think we'll have a good relationship."
Trump came under sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle when he appeared to take Putin's denial of 2016 election meddling over the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies at their joint press conference on Monday. Trump later backtracked and said he did accept the conclusion of the agencies, and he said he misspoke when he said he didn't see any reason it "would" be Russia, saying he meant to say "wouldn't."
He tweeted Thursday the Russia summit was a huge success except with the "Fake News Media," who he called "the real enemy of the people." Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later announced Thursday Trump had directed National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to the White House for another summit later this year.
Trump also caused confusion when he appeared to tell reporters Russia was not targeting the 2018 election with further cyberattacks; the White House claimed he was responding to a different question. He also told CBS News he did hold Putin responsible for election meddling perpetrated by Russia but only indirectly, saying "because he's in charge of the country."
Published under: CNBC , Donald Trump , Russia , Vladimir Putin