Putin Accuses Obama Administration Of Trying To Undermine Trump's Legitimacy
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the Obama administration is attempting to "undermine the legitimacy" of President-elect Donald Trump.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government, at the direction of Putin, hacked several U.S. targets as part of an "influence campaign" to shape the outcome of the election.
More recently, an unverified document reportedly assembled by a former intelligence operative accused Trump of colluding with Russia, and the Kremlin of holding blackmail material as leverage over Trump. Both Trump and Russia have rejected the allegations.
At a news conference with the president of Moldova on Tuesday, Putin was asked about the unverified dossier. He denounced it in "colorful language," as NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow.
Putin ridiculed one of the more lurid accusations in the dossier in particular, and said the document illustrates how far Western political elites have fallen, Lucian reports. But he also rejected the broader accusations of Russian involvement.
"What we see is the continuing sharp domestic political struggle although the presidential elections are over and they ended with a convincing victory of Mr. Trump," Putin said, according to Russia's TASS news agency.
He said the allegations of Russian interference cause "enormous" harm to U.S. interests and are meant to "bind the president-elect by hand and foot" to prevent him from carrying out his campaign pledges.
"Look, how can anything be done to improve the Russian-U.S. relations if such [a] hoax as the interference of some hackers in the election campaign emerges?" Putin asked, according to TASS.
Intelligence officials in the U.S. say they stand "resolutely" behind their conclusion of hacking operations directed by senior officials in Russia, but much of the evidence they drew on for conclusion remains classified.
Trump has openly challenged the intelligence community's consensus on this issue, but last week said for the first time he "thinks" Russia was responsible for the election hacks.