President Donald Trump has asserted that, despite the U.S. intelligence community's consensus that the Russian government sought to aid his presidential campaign in 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin would have preferred former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in office because of her energy and military policies.
On July 12, Trump stated that he saw Russia as a potential ally for the U.S. and would work toward strengthening our relationship with the country.
"We are a tremendously powerful nuclear power, and so are they," Trump told CBN News. "It doesn't make sense not to have some kind of a relationship."
While Trump said that he had had a productive meeting with Putin during the Group of 20 (G20) summit, he asserted that the Russian president would have preferred Clinton as commander-in-chief.
"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 continued. "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."
The president touted his loosening of federal regulations on the fossil fuel and natural gas industries, asserting that his policies made the U.S. more of an economic competitor against Russia.
"[Putin] would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills," Trump added. "He would much rather have that because energy prices would go up and Russia as you know relies very much on energy."
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Putin's administration waged an influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election to undermine the Clinton campaign and bolster the Trump campaign.
On May 3, former FBI Director James Comey explained during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that U.S. federal agencies believed that Putin sought to bolster Trump's electoral prospects because he wanted to avoid a President Clinton at all costs.
"[Trump] wasn't Hillary Clinton, who Putin hated and wanted to harm in any possible way," Comey said, according to Politico. "Putin believed he would be more able to make deals, reach agreements with someone with a business background than someone who had grown up in more of a government environment."
On July 7, Trump met with Putin for their first bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Brussels, Germany. The two leaders spoke for over two hours.
"Everyone was surprised by the amount of time but that was a good thing and not a bad thing," Trump said. "Yeah, I think we get along very well and I think that's a good thing, that's not a bad thing. ... I think a lot of things came out of that meeting but I do believe it's important to have a dialogue and if you don't have a dialogue, it's a lot of problems for our country and for their country."