Putin praises Trump as ‘well-qualified’ and an ‘interesting conversationalist’ after summit
‘He knows how to listen and hear what the electorate, the public, wants from him, and he is doing a good job on that’
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised US leader Donald Trump as well-informed and a good conversationalist after a summit in Helsinki.
“He’s a well-qualified person, he knows the material, he listens and takes in arguments,” Putin told Channel One state-controlled television in an interview given after their joint press conference.
“On some questions he sticks to his opinion,” Putin added, giving the example of Trump’s decision to quit the international nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump “is an interesting conversationalist,” Putin said after their several hours of talks.
“Everyone thinks he’s exclusively a businessman. I don’t think that’s so. Because he’s already a politician,” he added.
“Most of all because he knows how to listen and hear what the electorate, the public, wants from him, and he is doing a good job on that,” Putin said.
As for the question of whether Russia has compromising information on Trump, Putin batted away the matter at the press conference.
Russian government officials – including Putin’s top spokesman – knew Trump was in Moscow in November 2013 to host the Miss Universe pageant and were told about the real estate developer’s eagerness to meet with Putin while he was there, according to people familiar with the conversations who have recounted them to congressional investigators.
Trump had also visited Russia to explore the possibility of building a Trump Tower in Moscow on several previous occasions.
Putin offered a winding response about how little he knew of Trump’s travels to Russia.
Putin said that he “did hear these rumours” about Russia collecting compromising material on Trump. But, he said, “when President Trump visited Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow.”
“I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow,” he added. “It’s difficult to imagine another nonsense of a bigger scale than this. Well, please, just disregard this issue and don’t think about this any more again.”
Trump said that if Putin had such material on him, “it would have been out long ago.”
On Monday, the top two Democrats in Congress suggested that Trump’s performance during the joint news conference was a sign that Russia does indeed have damaging information on the US leader.
In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace after the news conference, Putin added, “We don’t have anything on them, and there can’t be anything on them.”
Putin told Wallace that the Russian state doesn’t “have enough manpower” to monitor all foreign businessmen who visit. “That’s not part of our plans, and it’s clear that we did nothing of that kind against Mr Trump.”
Putin said the date of his next meeting with Trump had not yet been decided but they could meet at an event in Asia or at the G20 in Argentina.
Additional reporting by The Washington Post