WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that “it’s possible” he’ll meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this summer, as he held forth with reporters on the White House driveway in an impromptu interview and gaggle.
Trump again made the case that Russia should be allowed to rejoin the Group of Seven industrialized nations while speaking to reporters a day after the release of a Department of Justice internal watchdog report looking into the department’s conduct.
“It’s much better if we get along with them than if we don’t,” said Trump, who has repeatedly expressed a willingness to deal with Putin in spite of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and other aggressive acts.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating whether Trump’s campaign played a role in that effort — an investigation Trump has dismissed as a “witch hunt.”
Russia was invited to join the G-7 in 1998, turning it into the G-8. But Putin in 2014 alarmed world leaders after moving troops into eastern Ukraine and invading and annexed Crimea and for its support for pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine. The act was deemed so aggressive that other leaders kicked Russia out of the group and canceled an upcoming summit in Russia.
Trump, in his remarks, blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia’s action in Crimea, claiming it was Obama’s “fault” because “Putin didn’t respect President Obama.”
“President Obama lost Crimea, just so you understand. This was long before I got there,” Trump said.
It was not clear what Trump thought Obama should have done to prevent Putin from sending in Russian troops to seize the Black Sea peninsula from neighboring Ukraine.