US President-elect Donald Trump opened the floodgates for mockery and criticism after agreeing with the Russian leader’s assessment of the Democrats’ attempts to blame the 2016 election on external factors instead of accepting it with dignity.
Brushing aside claims that Russia somehow interfered with the US election process, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists in Moscow that the Democrats are the ones responsible for their political failures.
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“There are attempts by the Democrats and the current administration to blame their failures on external factors. The Democrats didn't just lose the presidential election, but the House and the Senate as well. Did I do that as well? They need to learn to lose with dignity,” the Russian President said.
Reacting to Putin’s statement, the US president-elect tweeted “So true!”
A barrage of criticism erupted on Twitter in response, with social media users calling the next US president a traitor, embarrassment, and Kremlin puppet.
After all, Trump has been focusing on improving relations with Russia and has made every effort to ease tensions with Moscow. Some of his critics see that as weakness.
Earlier in the day, Trump spoke warmly about the “very nice” holiday letter he received from the Russian president, which expressed hope for renewed cooperation between Moscow and Washington after the change in management.
Extending his “warmest Christmas and New Year greetings” to Trump, Putin wrote that “relations between Russia and the US remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security of the modern world,” according to an unofficial translation of the letter made available by the president-elect’s transition team
I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner – to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level,” said the letter, dated December 15.
“A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct,” Trump said Friday, in a statement to reporters accompanying the letter. “I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”
The statement comes a day after Trump posted a cryptic tweet advocating that the US “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” sparking fears of a renewed atomic arms race with Russia.
During the campaign, Trump has repeatedly argued it would be “nice if [US] could get along with Russia,” prompting accusations from his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton that he was “Putin’s puppet”. Democrats have also said that “Russian hackers” were responsible for the disclosure of emails both from the party and the private account of Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, which were released by WikiLeaks prior to the November 8 election.