President-elect Donald Trump may be trying to downplay his relationship with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, but in an October 2015 interview, he openly admitted to having met the despot.
During the radio interview in question with conservative talk show host Michael Savage, Trump said that he had met Putin "one time … a long time ago" and claimed that he "got along with him great."
Trump also praised Putin's atrocities-filled military campaign in Syria, describing it as "wonderful" because the Russians were "really hitting ISIS hard."
When Savage asked if Trump felt he could "do business with Vladimir" if he was elected president, Trump replied, "Yes, I do. I think I would get along very well. I had the Miss Universe pageant, believe it or not, in Moscow two years ago. I got many of the Russian leaders, the top people in Russia, honestly . . . These are people, they are looking to do things."
This isn't the first time that Trump has admitted to having met Putin. His previous occasions included a November 2013 interview with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, in which Trump said, "I do have a relationship [with Putin], and I can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today."
In an address at the CPAC conference in March 2014, when he bragged that "Putin even sent me a present" after the Miss Universe contest; at an address at the National Press Club in May 2014, he said, "I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin" during his stay in Moscow for the pageant. During a debate on Fox Business News in November 2015, Trump claimed (inaccurately) that he had gotten to know Putin "very well because we were both on 60 Minutes" (which would have been impossible since their footage was shot on different continents).
Once Trump's alleged relationship with Putin became a controversy, however, he changed his tune. In July he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that "I have no relationship to — with him. I have no relationship with him." He has repeated these claims ever since, most recently on Twitter.
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
4 years ago Donald Trump clearly and confidently said he had a relationship with Putin and that Putin followed his every move. pic.twitter.com/biRbzlHH24
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 11, 2017
Putin, meanwhile, claimed on Tuesday that he was "not acquainted with Trump." This is in spite of the abundant evidence indicating that both Trump and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who leaked emails hacked from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, have connections to the Putin regime.