President Donald Trump has said that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin would have been happier if his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had won last year's general election, as this would have made America weak.
In his first major interview after his last week's maiden meeting with Putin in Hamburg, Germany, on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit, Trump said he and the Russian leader both are advocating interest of their respective countries. But there is scope for co-operation between the two at the global stage.
"We are the most powerful country in the world and we are getting more and more powerful because I'm a big military person. 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," Trump told Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview.
The investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged connection with the Russians by Special Persecutor Robert Muller is not a ‘witch hunt’, Federal Bureau of Investigation director nominee Christopher Wray said on Wednesday.
Wray, 50, who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the FBI after he fired James Comey from this position in May, is a former high- ranking Justice Department official.
“I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt,” he told Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing.
Mueller, a former FBI Director and predecessor of Comey, has been appointed as a special prosecutor by the Department of Justice to look into the allegations of the relationship if any between the Russians and the Trump campaign during the presidential elections last year.
In several of his social media outbursts, Trump has repeatedly described such investigations as a witch hunt.
The question was raised by Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsay Graham during Wray's confirmation hearing.
“In light of the Don Jr email, and other allegations, that this whole thing about Trump campaign and Russia’s a witch hunt? Is that a fair description of what we're all dealing with in America?” Graham asked Wray, who replied in negative.
Wray did not specifically respond to the question if Trump can fire Muller.
"And that's why I say, why would he want me? Because from day one I wanted a strong military, he doesn't want to see that," he said, according to the excerpts of the interview released by CBN.
"From day one I want fracking and everything else to get energy prices low and to create tremendous energy. We're going to be self-supporting, we just about are now. We're going to be exporting energy – he doesn't want that.
"He would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills. He would much rather have that because energy prices would go up and Russia as you know relies very much on energy," he continued.
The full interview is scheduled to be telecast on Thursday.
"So there are many things that I do that are the exact opposite of what he would want. So what I keep hearing about that he would have rather had Trump, I think 'probably not,' because when I want a strong military, you know she wouldn't have spent the money on military," he said.
"When I want tremendous energy, we're opening up coal, we're opening up natural gas, we're opening up fracking, all the things that he would hate, but nobody ever mentions that," said the US President. In the middle of a political storm, because of allegation of Russian connections by his campaign, Trump said the two countries can get along together.
"Well he wants what's good for Russia, and I want what's good for the United States. And I think in a case like Syria where we can get together, do a ceasefire, and there are many other cases where getting along can be a very positive thing, but always Putin is going to want Russia and Trump is going to want the United States and that's the way it is," Trump told CBN.
His meeting with Putin in Germany last week went quite well, he said.
"Sometimes you're not going to get along on things and sometimes you will. But we had a good meeting, it was a face to face meeting, it was a long meeting. It was two hours and 15 minutes. Everyone was surprised by the amount of time but that was a good thing and not a bad thing," he said.
"Yeah, I think we get along very well and I think that's a good thing, that's not a bad thing. People said, 'Oh they shouldn't get along.' Well, who are the people that are saying that? I think we get along very, very well. We are a tremendously powerful nuclear power, and so are they. It doesn't make sense not to have some kind of a relationship," Trump said.
Syria is one area where there is potential of a large cooperation. "I think we had an excellent meeting. One thing we did is we had a ceasefire in a major part of Syria where there was tremendous bedlam and tremendous killing. And, by the way, this is now four days," Trump said.
"The ceasefire has held for four days. Those (previous) ceasefires haven't held at all. That's because President Putin and President Trump made the deal, and it's held. Now, I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe as we're speaking they start shooting again. But this has held unlike all of the other ceasefires that didn't mean anything," he said.
"So, that was a great thing that came out of that meeting. 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. I think we need dialogue. We need dialogue with everybody," Trump told CBN.
IMAGE: Putin and Trump exchange pleasantries during a bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters