FLASHBACK: Obama to Russian President: ‘After My Election, I’ll Have More Flexibility’

By Susan Jones | December 12, 2016 | 10:25am EST
When President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul on March, 26, a live microphone picked up whispered conversation in which Obama told Medvedev to tell Putin that Obama would "have more flexibility" after his re-election. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama was running for re-election in March 2012, when a live microphone picked up his whispered conversation with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Obama told Medvedev it was important for incoming President Vladimir Putin to "give me space" on missile defense and other difficult issues and that after the 2012 presidential election he would have "more flexibility." Medvedev said he would "transmit" the message to Putin.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama told Medvedev at a gathering in Seoul, South Korea.

“Yeah, I understand,” said Medvedev, who was about to replaced by Putin as Russian president. “I understand your message about space. Space for you--"

“This is my last election," Obama said. "After my election I have more flexibility.”

“I understand," Medvedev said. "I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

As expected, Putin easily won the election to replace Medvedev as president on March 4, 2012. Twenty-two days later, on March 26, 2012, Obama urged Medvedev to pass on the "flexibilty" message to Putin.

U.S. relations with Russia deteriorated in Obama's second term, after Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and sided with the Assad regime in Syria's civil war.

While campaigning for Hillary Clinton in October 2016, Obama criticized Republican Donald Trump's "continued flattery of Mr. Putin and the degree to which he appears to model many of his policies and approaches" after those of Putin.

Tweeting from Russia on Monday, ahead of  his meeting with Putin, Trump blamed Obama for sour relations with Russia: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!" he wrote.

Trump also tweeted: "President Obama thought that Crooked Hillary was going to win the election, so when he was informed by the FBI about Russian Meddling, he said it couldn’t happen, was no big deal, & did NOTHING about it. When I won it became a big deal and the Rigged Witch Hunt headed by Strzok!"

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