- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

President Obama said it’s possible that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to help Republican nominee Donald Trump by hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee, and called Mr. Trump’s candidacy “scary.”

“We’re not a government where a strongman orders people around and banishes enemies,” Mr. Obama said of the Republican nominee. “We live in a democracy.”

Asked by “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie if the Russians were trying to interfere with the presidential election, Mr. Obama replied, “Anything’s possible.”

“Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin,” the president said. “And I think that Trump’s gotten pretty favorable coverage back in Russia.”

Democrats have accused Mr. Putin of meddling in the presidential campaign after WikiLeaks released damaging emails from DNC officials showing that they tried to undermine the candidacy of Sen. Bernard Sanders.

In the interview, Mr. Obama said, “What we do know … is that the Russians hack our systems. Not just government systems, but private systems.”

Mr. Trump has ridiculed the suggestion that Moscow is trying to help his campaign, and Russia has denied involvement.

“I have nothing to do with Russia” Mr. Trump said Wednesday, adding that he has sold real estate to Russians.

He said he has called Mr. Putin a better leader than Mr. Obama, but “who doesn’t know that?”

In the NBC interview, Mr. Obama also said he finds the possibility of a Trump presidency “scary.”

“I’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff happen,” the president said. “What I think is scary is a president who doesn’t know their stuff and doesn’t seem to have an interest in learning what they don’t know.”

He suggested that the billionaire developer and reality TV star didn’t really want to become president.

“I think he is somebody who likes attention and maybe surprised himself that he got this far,” Mr. Obama said. “He doesn’t seem to have any plans or policies or proposals or specific solutions.”

Last year, Mr. Obama dismissed the possibility that Mr. Trump would win the Republican nomination, saying it could happen only in a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

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