- Russian President Vladimir Putin says he expects Trump to survive an impeachment trial in the GOP-controlled Senate.
- In his annual year-end press conference in Moscow, Putin says the Democratic Party was trying to dethrone Trump "by other methods and means."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he expects President Donald Trump to survive impeachment proceedings and that the legal move against him was a Democratic Party trying to get results "using other methods and means."
Late Wednesday, Trump became only the third president in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. In a largely party-line vote, the House impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his attempt to pressure Ukraine's president into opening up investigations into his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender to face Trump in the November election.
This sets up a trial in the Senate that will decide whether Trump remains in office.
At his annual year-end press conference in Moscow, Putin said he didn’t expect to see Trump’s reign to end via impeachment as his Republican Party would save him.
“It's unlikely they will want to remove from power a representative of their party based on what are, in my opinion, completely fabricated reasons,” Putin said, according to a Reuters translation.
Putin said the Democratic Party is attempting to remove Trump because it had failed in the 2016 election.
“This is simply a continuation of the (U.S.) intra-political battle where one party that lost an election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results using other methods and means,” Putin said.
Putin added that the Democrats had accused Russia of election interference and collusion at high levels. This had been proven untrue, he said, and now the U.S. opposition had moved on to allegations surrounding Ukraine.
Allegations of Russian interference prompted a near two-year long investigation led by Robert Mueller. The inquiry concluded that Putin's government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in “sweeping and systematic fashion” and had been designed to favor Trump and harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into his Democratic political rival Joe Biden and into a debunked theory that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 on behalf of Clinton. Trump is also charged with obstruction of Congress for allegedly refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.
A fresh bill to impose more Russian sanctions is making its way through the U.S. system.
Titled the "Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019" (DASKA), the law would level new sanctions against sovereign debt, banks and Russian oligarchs.
It is backed by Senate Democrats and some senior Republicans, although it is understood the White House, via the State Department, "strongly opposes" it.
Putin said Thursday the decisions by the U.S. against Russia were obviously not coming from the executive branch — Trump — but were being pushed by the legislative.
He said fresh sanctions would have some impact on ties between the U.S. and Russia. "There is nothing good about it, this is an unfriendly move," Putin said, according to a separate translation.
—CNBC's Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.