Putin: ‘Far-Fetched’ Impeachment Charges Designed to Undo 2016 Election Result

By Dimitri Simes | December 19, 2019 | 4:11pm EST
President Vladimir Putin holds his annual marathon press conference on Thursday. (Photo: The Kremlin)
President Vladimir Putin holds his annual marathon press conference on Thursday. (Photo: The Kremlin)

Moscow (CNSNews.com) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called the impeachment charges against President Donald Trump “far-fetched” and accused the Democratic Party of trying to overturn the result of the 2016 presidential election.

Speaking during his annual year-end marathon press conference on Thursday, Putin said he thought it unlikely Trump would be removed from office despite the House vote to impeach him.

“The decision still needs to pass through the Senate, where the Republicans, as far as I know, have the majority, and they are unlikely to want to remove the representative of their party from power for something I, personally, see as far-fetched,” Putin said.

The Russian president argued that the Democrats’ impeachment push was a pretext to remove Trump from office and undo his victory in the 2016 election.

“This is just another move in that country’s domestic political campaigning, where one party that lost the election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results they want through other means, such as charging Trump with conspiracy related to Russia, he said.

“When it turned out there was no conspiracy, there was no longer a sufficient reason to impeach.”

(The redacted report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation said the probe “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But it did detail attempts by the Russians to interfere in the elections, through social media and disinformation campaigns and hacking operations designed to influence the election.)

“Now they have invented pressure on Ukraine,” Putin said, alluding to the allegations at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment charges. “I do not know what this is all about. But your congresspeople certainly know better,”

Putin also commented on the U.S. Senate passage this week of a defense policy bill including sanctions targeting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe. He warned that Moscow plans to retaliate for the proposed sanctions, but did not elaborate.

“This will certainly affect the level of interstate relations. We are aware of their general approach – the United States will work with us in areas where they have an interest and profit, while at the same time restraining Russia with decisions like this,” he said.

“Knowing this, we too will mirror their steps, we will do just that. I am not saying this is a good thing. These are very unfriendly acts in relation to Russia.”

Putin also urged the Trump administration to extend the 2010 New START treaty between the U.S. and Russia, which is set to expire in February 2021.

“They can send it to us by post, or we can sign it and send it to Washington so that their senior officials, including the President, sign it, if they are ready to do so,” he said.

“So far we have not received a reply to any of our proposals. Without the New START there will be nothing left in the world to contain the arms race. I believe that there is nothing good about it.”

Under the New START Treaty, the U.S. and Russia had to keep the number of their nuclear warheads at 1,550, the number of their deployed missiles and bombers at 700, and the number of their nuclear weapons launchers at 800.

The Trump administration has not committed to extending the treaty, but has instead suggested that the U.S. and Russia sign a new arms control pact that also includes China. 

The redacted report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation said the probe “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But it did detail attempts by the Russians to interfere in the elections, through social media and disinformation campaigns and hacking operations designed to influence the election.


 

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