President Barack Obama, during a press conference detailing the intelligence community's investigation into whether or not Russia had interfered with the 2016 presidential election, blasted Republican lawmakers and voters for warming up to Russian President Vladimir Putin (video below).
On Dec. 16, Obama addressed reporters from the White House, revealing that he had personally told Putin in September to cease hacking into Democratic organizations and leaking them through WikiLeaks, CNN reports.
Obama added that Russian interference in the election stopped after he had warned Putin, "But the leaks through WikiLeaks had already occurred."
The president proceeded to deride Russia as "a smaller country, they are a weaker country. Their economy doesn't produce anything anyone wants to buy except oil and gas and arms. They don't innovate."
Obama warned that the only way that Putin's government could undermine the U.S. was through its propaganda operation.
"Mr. Putin can weaken us just like he is trying to weaken Europe if we start buying into notions that it is OK to intimidate the press or lock up dissidents," Obama said.
Obama then chided Republicans' increasing friendliness with Putin, citing an Economist/YouGov poll released on Dec. 14.
Compared to past surveys on the same subject, the poll found that Republicans' favorability towards Putin had jumped from a net negative of 66 percent in July 2014 to only a net negative of 10 percent in December 2016, an increase of 56 points in favorability, according to Vox.
"Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave," Obama said.
On Dec. 15, Obama had voiced similar concerns during an interview with NPR, expressing disbelief that Republican lawmakers and voters were showing an increasing acceptance of Putin.
"This is somebody, the former head of the KGB, who is responsible for crushing democracy in Russia, muzzling the press, throwing political dissidents in jail, countering American efforts to expand freedom at every turn; is currently making decisions that's leading to a slaughter in Syria," Obama said of Putin.
"And a big chunk of the Republican Party, which prided itself during the Reagan era and for decades that followed as being the bulwark against Russian influence, now suddenly is embracing him," Obama added.
Many Republicans appear to be following the lead of President-elect Donald Trump, who had spoken positively about Putin on the campaign trail and has called for a softening of U.S.-Russia relations. Trump has repeatedly dismissed the CIA's assessment that Russia had interfered in the election to help elect him.
During his press conference, Obama said that Trump had been receptive to his advice and expressed hope that his successor would take the CIA's findings seriously once he assumes office.
"My hope is the president-elect is similarly going to be concerned that we don't have foreign influence in our election process," Obama said.