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Barack Obama hits out at Trump over backing for Putin

By Kathleen Hennessey

Published 19/10/2016

Criticism: Barack Obama
Criticism: Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has accused Republican Donald Trump of showering praise and modelling his policies on Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to a degree that is "unprecedented in American politics".

Mr Obama said he is "surprised and troubled" by Republican politicians he says are echoing their presidential nominee's positions on Russia.

Mr Trump has praised Mr Putin as a strong leader and criticised Mr Obama and the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, for Washington's deteriorating relationship with Moscow.

In an interview on Monday, Mr Trump said Russia "can't stand" either Democrat.

Mr Trump promised a closer relationship with Mr Putin, if elected, starting with a possible meeting with Mr Putin before the US inauguration.

The candidate has continued his controversial warnings that the election is "rigged", angering his fellow Republicans who worry his rhetoric will hurt public faith in elections.

Meanwhile, Melania Trump made her first public comments about the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct lodged against her husband.

In an interview with Fox News, Mrs Trump said she believes the accusations were co-ordinated by political rivals: "They want to damage the presidency of my husband, and it was all planned, it was all organised from the opposition."

Mr Trump's comments carried echoes of Mrs Clinton's allegations of a "vast right-wing conspiracy", organised to raise similar allegations against her husband two decades ago.

Mr Trump notably tried to revive Bill Clinton's history, by inviting his accusers to the last debate.

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