President Donald Trump distanced himself from allegations that he was cozying up to Russia and said if President Vladimir Putin crossed the line, he would Putin's "worst enemy."
"If that doesn't work out, I'll be the worst enemy he's ever had," Trump said in an interview with CNBC anchor Joe Kernen on Thursday. "The worst he's ever had."
Trump made his comments three days after his summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, where he was criticized for holding reservations against US intelligence reports and failed to condemn Russia's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
After returning to Washington the next day, Trump walked back his comments and said he misspoke after a wave of Republican lawmakers voiced their concern.
Trump has since conducted several one-on-one TV interviews with major networks and voiced his firm stance against Russia's exploits. On July 18, he said he would hold Putin personally responsible for interfering in the election.
"Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country," Trump said to CBS News. "So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes."
Trump continued to clap back at his critics on July 19, telling CNBC that he was "far tougher on Russia" than his predecessors.
"But look at the sanctions I have put on," Trump said to Kernen. "Look at the diplomats I threw out. Look at all the things that I have done. Nobody else did what I have done."
Trump has slapped several sanctions against Russia in response to its election interference — including targeting seven Russian oligarchs with ties to Putin and their companies, and 17 senior government officials. The Trump administration also ordered the closure of several Russian-owned properties in the US, including a consulate in San Francisco and diplomatic annexes in New York and Washington.
"Nobody else did what I have done," Trump added. "Obama didn't do it. Obama was a patsy for Russia. He was a total patsy."
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
- Trump treats Putin like a 'confidant,' commiserates about how the ... ›
- Few Republicans defend Trump amid criticism of Putin press ... ›
- Trump-Putin press conference 'disgusting,' Republicans say ... ›
- Trump's behaving like a 'Russian asset', intel and natsec experts warn ›
- Lawmakers want Trump to release his tax returns after Putin summit ... ›