- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 31, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pushed back Sunday against Democratic claims that he has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and that a Trump presidency would benefit Russia.

“I have no relationship with Putin,” Mr. Trump declared in an interview aired on ABC’s “This Week.”

Responding to attacks at the Democratic National Convention by Vice President Joe Biden and former secretary of state Madeline Albright, who said Mr. Putin is rooting for Mr. Trump because he would make Russia stronger, the New York businessman said the criticism was about campaign politics, not foreign policy.

“They are only afraid of one thing — losing the election,” said Mr. Trump.

Democrats raised red flags about Mr. Trump’s ties to Mr. Putin after allegations that Russia was responsible for an email hack at the Democratic National Committee that revealed party officials had colluded to sabotage the run of Mrs. Clinton’s primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Mr. Trump said that he wouldn’t be a pushover as a U.S. president dealing with Mr. Putin

“We are not going to be bowing to anybody. I don’t bow,” said Mr. Trump.

“But if we can have a good relationship with Russia and if Russia can help us get rid of ISIS, frankly, as far as I’m concerned, you’re talking about tremendous amounts of lives and money, that would be a positive thing, not a negative thing,” he said.

Mr. Trump previously claimed to have a “relationship” with Mr. Putin, making the claim in interviews in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

“What do you call a relationship. He treats me with respect,” said Mr. Trump, adding later “I don’t know what it means by ‘having a relationship.’”

“I don’t think we’ve ever met,” he said. “I’ve never spoken with to him on the phone. When we had the Miss Universe contest a number of years ago, we had Miss Universe in Moscow … he was invited, he wanted to come, he wasn’t able to come. That would have been a time when I would have met him.”

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