Late Friday night, minutes before deplaning in Florida for the holidays, President Donald Trump retweeted a link to an article in which Russian President Vladimir Putin defended him against impeachment. “A total Witch Hunt!” the president tweeted at 10.30pm, as he shared a 36-hour-old Associated Press tweet that read: “BREAKING: Russian President Vladimir Putin says US President Donald Trump’s impeachment is far-fetched and predicts the US Senate will reject it.” A total Witch Hunt! https://t.co/PEe35rewE9 — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2019 Trump’s boasting of Putin’s support comes a day after The Washington Post reported that White House advisers feared Trump’s belief that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for interfering with 2016 election was spurred by conversations Trump had had with Putin. Trump’s critics responded on the president’s tweet, expressing exasperation more than incredulity. “At the end of the day, it’s always Putin First,” wrote conservative commentator and “Never Trumper” Bill Kristol. “Trump wants us to know that Putin has his back. We know,” tweeted Eric Columbus, a former Justice Department appointee in the Obama administration. Trump’s impeachment centre stage in Democratic primary debate “Putin is a dictator who jails opponents, kills opponents, invades neighbours, interferes in democracies’ elections, etc. I don’t think an American president should be buddying with him. I wonder if Trump defenders are ever (secretly) embarrassed by this stuff. I hope so,” wrote Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at the right-leaning National Review. At his annual end-of-the-year news conference on Thursday, Putin was asked about Trump’s impeachment. He called the charges “completely fabricated reasons.” That evening, Russian state media, which follows Putin’s lead, also threw its support behind Trump. Popular Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Soloviev gave an impassioned defence of Trump on his evening show, raising his voice several times in a discussion with Atlantic Council expert Ariel Cohen. “I can’t understand for what reason [Democrats] don’t like Trump,” Soloviev said. Days earlier, on his two-hour Sunday night program, anchor Dmitry Kiselyov opined about how Hollywood has joined the Democrats in being against Trump, portraying him as “always on the dark side.” And the state-sponsored Rossiya 1 news channel, which airs Soloviev’s show, recently broadcast segments of Rudy Giuliani’s interview with right-wing channel One America News, in which the president’s personal lawyer promoted debunked conspiracy theories about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.