Putin: Obama administration trying to undermine Trump
President Vladimir Putin took a parting shot at the Obama administration yesterday, accusing it of trying to undermine Donald Trump's legitimacy with fake allegations and "binding the president-elect hand and foot to prevent him from fulfilling his election promises".
In his first public remarks about an unsubstantiated dossier outlining unverified claims that Trump engaged in sexual activities with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel, Putin dismissed the material as "nonsense".
"People who order such fakes against the US president-elect, fabricate them and use them in political struggle are worse than prostitutes," Putin said. "They have no moral restrictions whatsoever, and it highlights a significant degree of degradation of political elites in the West, including in the United States."
Separately, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, was a "rude provocation". The diplomat contemptuously called its author a "runaway swindler from MI6," Britain's foreign intelligence agency. Trump has rejected the sexual allegations as "fake news" and "phoney stuff".
The statements by Putin and Lavrov reflected the Kremlin's deep anger at President Barack Obama's administration in a culmination of tensions that have built up over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the US election.
Putin said the allegations were part of efforts by the Obama administration to "undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect" despite his "convincing" victory.
Asked about Putin's remarks, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it "was not the first time the intelligence community has had some uncomfortable things to say about Russia.
"These are the kind of things I'm sure the Russians would rather not hear, but ultimately, and this is something that the next administration is going to have to decide; there's a pretty stark divide here," he added.
Putin voiced hope that "common sense will prevail" and Russia and the United States will be able to normalise relations once Trump takes office on Friday.