Trump to Press after APEC: Praises Putin, Rips ‘Hacks’ Brennan, Clapper, Comey

The Presidents and first ladies of China and the United States at the APEC summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017 (cover photo of Putin and Trump by New China News Agency)

The Presidents and first ladies of China and the United States at the APEC summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017 (cover photo of Putin and Trump by New China News Agency)

On the Asia trip thus far:

"I think it’s been a great trip. In certain ways, it’s been very epic. I think things have happened that have been really amazing. Prime Minister Abe came up to me just at the end, and he said that since you left South Korea and Japan, that those two countries are now getting along much, much better.... They say in the history of people coming to China, there’s been nothing like this. And I believe it."

He noted that the theater in the Forbidden City had been opened for the opera performance for the first time in 100 years.

On Xi Jinping: "We have an amazing feeling toward each other. And he’s for China; I’m for U.S.A."

On the Syria Joint Statement with Putin: "It’s going to save a tremendous number of lives. And we did that very quickly. We agreed very quickly."

On Putin: He said that he and Putin had talked three times, all rather briefly, but productively. Asked about Russian "meddling" in the U.S. election, Trump was emphatic:

"He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. But I just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they’re saying he did."

Asked if he believed Putin, Trump said:

"That whole thing was set up by the Democrats. I mean, they ought to look at Podesta. They ought to look at all of the things that they’ve done with the phony dossier. Those are the big events. Putin said he did not do what they said he did. And, you know, there are those that say, if he did do it, he wouldn’t have gotten caught, all right? Which is a very interesting statement. But we have a good feeling toward getting things done. If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact, it would be a great thing, not a bad thing. Because he could really help us in North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea. And China is helping us. And because of the lack of a relationship that we have with Russia, because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this Democratic-inspired thing, we could really be helped a lot, tremendously, with Russia having to do with North Korea. And, you know, you’re talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn’t baby stuff. This is the real deal. And if Russia helped us, in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster.

"And I believe—I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.... I think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.

"But this is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with Russia.... And then you look at what’s going on with Podesta, and you look at what’s going on with the server from the DNC, and why didn’t the FBI take it, why did they leave it; why did a third party look at the server and not the FBI—if you look at all of this stuff, and you say, what’s going on here?

"And then you hear it’s 17 agencies. Well, it’s three. And one is Brennan. I mean, give me a break. They’re political hacks. So you look at it—I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker.

"So you look at that, and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that."

A reporter said: "You seem to have a fairly warm relationship with a number of totalitarian or authoritarian leaders." Trump didn’t fall for the bait, responding:

"And others.... Everyone in that room [at APEC], I have a good relationship. They’re very different people, but every one. And I do have a very good relationship with Xi, obviously. It’s the biggest state dinner they’ve ever had, by far, in China. He called it a state-plus. He’s a strong person. He’s a very smart person. I like him a lot; he likes me. But, you know, we represent two very different countries. But we get along very well. And that’s a good thing that we along; that’s not a bad thing.... I think one of my strong suits is going to be foreign affairs. And we’re actually getting very good marks having to do with foreign affairs. There’s nobody that I can think of that I don’t have a very good relationship with.... And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way. It gets in the way. And that’s a shame because people will die because of that as we go down the road. I have to get back into the country to see what’s happening."

On Xi Jinping:

"He’s the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. Some people say more powerful than Mao. With that being said, I really believe he’s a good person, he’s a good man, he wants to do right, he’s representing his people. He’s strong, he’s very strong. But you know, you look at some of what you saw was very impressive. It was very impressive.... We were together for hours. And we get along very well. You know, it’s easy to be with him for hours. Whereas, if you don’t have chemistry, you people know, you can’t be with somebody for two minutes.

"But President Putin would be tremendously helpful—tremendously helpful—if I had Russia and China helping us with North Korea, I think that would solve it. But this artificial barrier gets in the way. I call it the ‘artificial Democrat barrier.’"

On Putin:

"We’ll have a meeting. I think we have the potential to have a very good relationship. I don’t know him like I know President Xi because I’ve spent a lot of time with President Xi, but I think we have the potential to have a very, very good relationship.... There’s an artificial barrier that’s put in the way by the Democrats. It’s a fake barrier. There was no collusion. Everybody knows there was no collusion. I mean, you speak to these people—I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day and I respect her. She was on television the other day saying there’s no collusion.... And I think it’s a shame that something like that can destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are very important countries. Russia could really help us."