Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton got into a tense exchange over Russian President Vladimir Putin at the final presidential debate of this election cycle Wednesday night.
Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, said the US should get along with Russia and that Putin doesn’t respect Clinton, the Democratic nominee, or President Barack Obama.
“Putin, from everything I see, has no respect for this person,” Trump said, pointing at Clinton.
“Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as the president of the United States,” Clinton retorted.
Trump shook his head and said “no puppet, no puppet.”
“You’re the puppet,” he said.
Clinton continued: “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit -“
Trump interjected again.
“You’re the puppet,” he said. “No, you’re the puppet.”
Clinton ignored Trump’s interruptions and accused him of encouraging Russian espionage of the US.
“You are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do,” Clinton said. “[Y]ou continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.”
Clinton pointed out that several US intelligence agencies have found evidence that Russia was behind recent hacks of Democratic Party organizations that they allege were meant to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
Trump has so far refused to place the blame with Russia for the hacks.
“She has no idea whether it’s Russia, China, or anybody else,” Trump said. “She has no idea.”
Clinton said Trump would “rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.”
Trump than implied that Clinton doesn’t like Putin because he is smarter than her.
“She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her every step of the way,” Trump said. “Putin has outsmarted her in Syria, he has outsmarted her every step of the way.”