President Donald Trump on Monday concluded his G7 trip by repeating Russian propaganda, claiming once again that it had been kicked out of the Group of 7 in 2014 because Russian President Vladimir Putin had “outsmarted” and “embarrassed” President Barack Obama by annexing Crimea from Ukraine.
During the solo portion of his press conference in Biarritz, the president was asked by PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor why he felt it was appropriate to invite Russia to rejoin the G7 considering they meddled in the United States’ 2016 presidential election.
“Are you worried that if Russia does come to the G7 that it might hurt you politically because it’s only going to be a couple of months before the 2020 election?” Alcindor added.
Claiming he doesn’t care about the political consequences, Trump went on to say that having Russia in the group “is better than having them outside” the G7. The president then pivoted to blasting his predecessor while praising an adversarial leader.
Stating that there were a “lot of bad things” that happened between Obama and Putin, Trump said that Obama’s “red line” warning to Syria—a Russian ally—over the use of chemical weapons was one of the reasons Russia wasn’t in the G7. He then pivoted to the annexation of Crimea.
“And the other [reason] was in Ukraine, having to do with a certain section of Ukraine that you know very well, where it was sort of taken away from President Obama,” Trump declared. “Not taken away from President Trump, taken away from President Obama. President Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him, right? It was very embarrassing to him.”
He continued: “And he wanted Russia to be out of the—what was called the G8. That was his determination. He was outsmarted by Putin. He was outsmarted. President Putin outsmarted President Obama. And I can understand how President Obama would feel. He wasn’t happy. And they’re not in for that reason.”
Alcindor, meanwhile, pushed back, confronting the president for repeating his baseless claim that Putin was pushed out of the then-G8 for embarrassing Obama, noting that the other countries said they booted Russia because of its illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea.
“I know you like President Obama,” Trump snapped back, adding: “If it was during my term, I would say sorry, folks, I made a mistake.”
The president then claimed Obama “was helping Ukraine” and Russia took Crimea during Obama’s tenure, placing all of the blame for Russia’s actions on the former U.S. president.
“President Obama was pure and simply outsmarted,” Trump concluded. “They took Crimea during his term. That was not a good thing. It could have been stopped with the right whatever. It could have been stopped. But President Obama was unable to stop it and it’s too bad.”