Trump: If Russia were in G-7 I could ask Putin 'to do things that are good for the world'

Trump: If Russia were in G-7 I could ask Putin 'to do things that are good for the world'
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President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE on Wednesday doubled down on his calls to readmit Russia to the Group of Seven (G-7), arguing it would give him an opportunity to engage with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“You know we spent probably 25 percent of our time talking about Russia. And I said to myself 'wouldn’t it be better if they were here,’” Trump said during an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier. 

“Now, I’m not for Russia. I’m for the United States," he continued. "But, as an example, if Vladimir Putin were sitting next to me at a table instead of one of the others… I could say, 'would you do me a favor and get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor, would you get out of Ukraine?'"


“If he were at that meeting, I could ask him to do things that are good for the world, that are good for our country that are good for him,” he added. 

Russia was expelled from the then-Group of Eight (G-8) in 2014 for its widely denounced annexation of Crimea. Trump first expressed support for Russia's readmission into the group before leaving for last weekend's G-7 summit in Canada.

Italy's new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, backed Trump's position later that day, saying the move would be "in everyone's interest."

The idea did not gain traction with other G-7 members, however. In a joint statement at the summit's conclusion, G-7 leaders urged Russia "to cease its destabilizing behavior, to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime."

Putin said Saturday he would be "ready" to welcome other world leaders to Moscow if Russia were readmitted to the group.

Trump has drawn criticism since taking office for not speaking out more forcefully against Putin, particularly in the wake of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election.

In Wednesday's interview, which was recorded shortly after Trump's Tuesday summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the president repeated his assertion that the Obama administration did not do enough to stop Russia from annexing Crimea from Ukraine.

Susan Rice, a former national security adviser for President Obama, called it “disgraceful” that Trump faulted Obama for Russia’s actions.

Rice argued that the Obama administration provided support to the Ukranian government to build up its military defense against Russia. All G-7 members, Rice added, agreed to expel Russia for its actions.