LAS VEGAS — Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Donald Trump would be a “puppet” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, if the Republican presidential nominee were elected to the White House.
After Trump attacked Clinton during the third and final presidential debate, saying Putin had “no respect” for her or President Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee shot back, “Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”
“No puppet. No puppet,” Trump shot back. “You’re the puppet. No, you’re the puppet.”
Clinton had been seeking to deflect from the substance of hacked emails posted online by Wikileaks — a theft US government says Moscow likely carried out — by putting the spotlight on Trump’s past praise of the Russian leader.
“You encouraged espionage against our people,” she said. “You are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list: break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do.
“You continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.”
Trump didn’t accept the conclusion that Russia was responsible for the hacks.
“She [Clinton] has no idea whether it’s Russia, China or anybody else,” he said.
“I am not quoting myself — I am quoting 17 intelligence [agencies]. Do you doubt 17 civilian and military intelligence agencies?” Clinton asked Trump.
“Our country has no idea, Trump said.
Listen to the full exchange below
Trump’s position is similar to what he said in the first debate: it could be Russia, China or a “400 pound hacker” — among others — could be responsible for the attack.
Russian officials have publicly denied a role in the attacks.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the accusations baseless in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.