Vladimir Putin has criticized the impeachment of Donald Trump, dismissing the charges as “absolutely made up” and saying he expected the US president to survive the historic proceedings.
In remarks reminiscent of Trump himself, Putin said during an annual press conference that US Democrats were seeking to make up for their loss in the 2016 presidential elections “by other means”, ascribing the impeachment proceedings to political infighting.
“The Democratic party, which lost the elections, is achieving results through other means, by accusing Trump at first of conspiracy with Russia, then it turns out, there was no conspiracy at all,” Putin said during the marathon Q&A session in Moscow. “It then turned out that there was no collusion and it could not form the basis for an impeachment, and now there is this made-up pressure on Ukraine.”
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The charges stemmed from Trump’s use of pressure against Ukraine to carry out an investigation into the family of his political rival Joe Biden.
Trump is the third president in US history to be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal from office by the US Senate. Trump is not expected to be removed from office, however, due to the Republicans’ senate majority.
“I doubt they will want to remove their own party’s representative from power based on what I think are absolutely made-up reasons,” Putin said in response to a question about the impeachment vote.
Donald Trump is impeached by House of Representatives in historic vote https://t.co/376KCM5VqL
— The Guardian (@guardian) December 19, 2019
Opponents of Trump have criticised the US president for seeking a closer relationship with Moscow despite evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
The Russian president also made news on Thursday when he said he would consider amending the Russian constitution to limit a president to serving two terms total, preventing any potential successor from occupying power for the same period as he has done.
Putin is currently serving his fourth presidential term, after which he will be constitutionally barred from standing in the 2024 presidential elections.
One of the biggest political questions in Russia remains whether Putin, 67, will seek to remain in power after 2024 by amending the constitution or attempt to pass power on to a successor.
Putin said that constitution term limits for the president could be altered by removing the word “consecutive”, giving one person a two-term limit for life.
In televised remarks he also said he was following proposals to increase parliamentary powers, driving speculation that he could assume the role of prime minister after exiting the presidency, in what would be an echo of the 2008 election in which he traded places with then-premier, Dmitry Medvedev, after serving two terms as president.
The press conference, held with much fanfare each December, gives Putin a chance to sound off on a range of topics without giving journalists much of a chance for follow-up questions.
Over more than four hours on stage, Putin said that Russia had been unfairly “punished twice” for its doping scandal, skirted past questions about domestic violence and his family’s business activities, and congratulated Boris Johnson on the Tories’ victory in parliamentary elections, saying Johnson “sensed the mood of British society better than his opponent”.