Donald Trump has told Joe Biden to give his “warmest regards” to Vladimir Putin when the two leaders meet next week – and said it “should be obvious” that US intelligence on Russian election meddling ought not to be trusted.
In a statement from his “Save America” campaign on Thursday night, the former US president attacked his successor and suggested that he did not trust American intelligence on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
In 2018 Mr Trump was asked after meeting Mr Putin in Helsinki whether Moscow had interfered in the 2016 presidential election and he caused consternation in Washington, and the Republican party, by siding with the Russian president.
The White House later claimed that Mr Trump had misspoken but on Thursday Mr Trump said: “As to who do I trust, they asked, Russia or our ‘Intelligence’ from the Obama era – meaning people like Comey, McCabe, the two lovers, Brennan, Clapper, and numerous other sleezebags – or Russia, the answer, after all that has been found out and written, should be obvious.
“Our government has rarely had such lowlifes as these working for it.”
Mr Biden and Mr Putin will have their first meeting on Wednesday in Geneva in an effort to reopen communications between the White House in the Kremlin. The US president is expected to raise with Mr Putin the cyberattacks by Russian-linked actors on US companies, including the world’s largest meat supplier and a large oil pipeline, that have been targeted by hackers.
Mr Biden is also set to warn Mr Putin of the consequences of any meddling in future US elections.
As president, Mr Trump refused to condemn Mr Putin, who insisted that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, despite US intelligence to the contrary.
Mr Trump still claims Russia did not meddle in the election and said his meeting with Mr Putin was a success for the US.
“As President, I had a great and very productive meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with President Putin of Russia,” Mr Trump said. “Despite the belated Fake News portrayal of the meeting, the United States won much, including the respect of President Putin and Russia.
“Because of the phony Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax, made-up and paid for by the Democrats and Crooked Hillary Clinton, the United States was put at a disadvantage—a disadvantage that was nevertheless overcome by me.
Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin—don’t fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!”