On December 14, 2016, NBC News reported that “U.S. intelligence officials now believe with ‘a high level of confidence’ that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.”
According to senior Intelligence officials, Putin had several motives:
- Waging a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, whom he has long disliked;
- Publicly disgrace the United States by revealing corruption at the heart of its politics; and
- “Split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn’t depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore.”
The CIA believed that Putin wanted to elect Donald Trump. The FBI wasn’t so certain, feeling that Putin might have simply wanted to do as much harm as possible.
Even so, an air of unreality clung to all of this.
On June 2, 2016, before an audience in San Diego, California, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had noted Trump’s strange attraction to dictators:
“And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald [Trump’s] bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America.
“He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit’ for taking over North Korea–something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie.
“And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A. Now, I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants,” said Clinton.
On December 18, 2015, Trump appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Its host, Joe Scarborough, was upset by Trump’s praise for Putin:
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I mean, [he’s] also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. obviously that would be a concern, would it not?
TRUMP: He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader. Unlike what we have in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: But again: He kills journalists that don’t agree with him.
TRUMP: I think our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know. There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on. A lot of stupidity. And that’s the way it is.
SCARBOROUGH: I’m confused. So I mean, you obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?
TRUMP: Oh sure, absolutely.
And Trump went far beyond handing out compliments.
On July 22, 2016, Wikileaks released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments hacked from computers of the highest-ranking officials of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Early reports traced the leak to Russian hackers.
And Trump’s reaction?
At a press conference in Doral, Florida he declared: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing–I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
This was nothing less than treason–calling upon a foreign power, hostile to the United States, to interfere in its Presidential election.
As President, Trump has defended the leader of the Communist world against hostile journalists and American Intelligence agencies.
On February 5, he gave an interview to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. As startled viewers watched, there occurred this exchange:
O’REILLY: Do you respect Putin?
TRUMP: I do respect him but—
O’REILLY: Do you? Why?
TRUMP: Well, I respect a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world —that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.
O’REILLY: But he’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.
TRUMP: There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think—our country’s so innocent? You think our country’s so innocent?
O’REILLY: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.
TRUMP: Well—take a look at what we’ve done, too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.
O’REILLY: But mistakes are different than—
TRUMP: A lot of mistakes, but a lot of people were killed. A lot of killers around, believe me.
Trump launched his Presidential campaign on June 16, 2015. According to The New York Times, by late October, 2016, he had aimed nearly 4,000 insulting tweets at 281 targets.
Among those insulted:
- The media
- The disabled
- The Pope
Considering his hair-trigger temper and willingness to insult virtually anyone, Trump’s careful, even fawning attitude toward Vladimir Putin stands out.
No wonder House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, following Trump’s February 5 remarks on Putin:
“I want to know what the Russians have on Donald Trump. I think we have to have an investigation by the FBI into his financial, personal and political connections to Russia, and we want to see his tax returns, so we can have truth in the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump.”