Donald Trump says that Russia will have “far more” respect for the U.S. when he is president and that he plans to maintain a good relationship — perhaps even an alliance — with the Kremlin.
In a series of tweets sent out Saturday morning, Trump also slammed those who have been critical of improving relations with Russia, calling them “fools.”
It is not clear what exactly prompted Trump’s comments.
But they come just after the U.S. intelligence community released a declassified report asserting that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the campaign to steal emails from Democrats during the presidential campaign and to release them through several cut-outs on the Internet.
The 25-page report, which provided little in the way of evidence, stated that Putin had an evolving set of goals in mind with the hacking campaign. (RELATED: Experts Call Russia Intel Report ‘Underwhelming,’ ‘Disappointing’)
Putin sought to hurt Hillary Clinton politically, possibly as payback for her questioning the legitimacy of his presidency when she was secretary of state, according to the report, which is a watered-down version of a classified briefing provided to Congress.
The Russian autocrat also sought to undermine the U.S. democratic process. As Trump became Republican nominee for president, Russia used a multifaceted campaign to improve his election chances. But as Election Day grew closer and most observers believed Clinton would prevail, Russia’s goal became to undermine her presidency.
Trump met with the heads of four intelligence agencies — the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence — just hours before the declassified report was released. He issued a statement in that meeting in which he seemed to acknowledge that Russia was involved in cyber attacks against the U.S. But he said that the attacks did not alter the outcome of the election.
As is usually the case with Trump’s tweets, he did not provide additional details about what an improved relationship with Russia might look like. Last week, the Obama administration slapped new sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the cyber attack campaign. Thirty-five Russian intelligence agents were ordered to leave the U.S. Several high-ranking officials in Russia’s GRU intelligence agency were also sanctioned. Trump has not signaled if he will keep those sanctions in place or lift them.