Russian President Vladimir Putin gave himself a nice pat on the back on Friday, saying he was one of the few who believed Donald Trump would win the U.S. presidency. Trump has his “finger on the pulse of the mood of society,” Putin said at his annual end-of-year marathon news conference. “He went all the way, even though no one believed that he would win, apart from you and me.” When asked whether Moscow had anything to do with Trump’s election, Putin scoffed at the suggestion. Democrats “are losing on all fronts and looking elsewhere for things to blame. In my view this, how shall I say it, degrades their own dignity,” he said. “You have to know how to lose with dignity.” Putin said the accusation against his government “speaks of the current administration’s systemic problems.”
The Russian leader said the presidential loss was only one part of the equation, noting Democrats also lost in Congress. “Is that also our work, my work?” Putin quipped. The Russian president said the Democratic Party “has clearly forgotten the original meaning of its own name” and all but told its members that they should be ashamed of themselves. “Outstanding figures in American history from the ranks of the Democratic Party would likely be turning in their graves. Roosevelt certainly would be,” he said.
When Putin was asked directly about whether President Obama had called on him to stop hacking operations in the United States, the Russian leader refused to answer, saying he wouldn’t reveal details of private conversations. He did echo Trump though in saying that the United States doesn’t know who actually did the hacking, and it could have been someone inside the United States. “Maybe it was someone lying on the couch who did it,” Putin said. Besides, the origin of the hack itself is irrelevant: “It’s not important who did the hacking, it’s important that the information that was revealed was true, that is important.”
After the news conference, Putin told Russian news agencies that he would be happy to visit the United States if he gets an invite. “If Trump invites [me] to visit the U.S., I will definitely come,” he said.