Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin of Russia today for roughly an hour and tweeted some self-congratulations after the call, which concerned (at least partially) the Mueller investigation (or “Russian hoax” as the president calls it).
Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
....We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the “Russian Hoax.” Very productive talk!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
Following the call, the official line from the White House was that Putin “agreed” with Trump that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian officials to help Trump win the 2016 election.
“Agreed no collusion”! pic.twitter.com/lVHqhTgael
— ana marie cox (@anamariecox) May 3, 2019
(Colluding about no collusion is… something else.)
Later in the Oval Office, reporters pressed Trump about the call. When asked if he addressed Russia’s election interference (exhaustively detailed in the Mueller report), Trump got a little snippy (or “snitty,” as the Attorney General who allegedly helped him cover up wrongdoing might say).
Reporter: “Did you ask him (Putin) not to meddle in the next election?”— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 3, 2019
President Trump: “We didn’t discuss that” pic.twitter.com/LMlJqfuyU8
According to Trump, Putin “smiled” when he brought up the Mueller investigation (guess they were FaceTiming?) and said something like “it started off as a mountain and ended up being a mouse.”
“He knew there was no collusion whatsoever,” Trump added.
“Did you tell them not to meddle in the next election?” asked reporter Kristen Welker.
“Excuse me, I’m talking, I’m answering this question. You are very rude,” Trump shot back.
When pressed again by multiple reporters Trump said “We didn’t discuss that.”
Welker: Did you talk to Mr. Dahmer about cannibalism?— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) May 3, 2019
Nutritionist: Didn't come up. https://t.co/jP56ZYofK4
To be clear, the issue is not that Trump has to bring up Russia’s interference in our elections every time he talks to him. The issue is that he’s never convincingly confronted Putin about it at all.
Let’s take a trip back in time and watch a very obsequious Trump lick Putin’s boots on the world stage, specifically about the election interference issue (before trying to gaslight us).
“My people came to me—[Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me—and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have, uh, President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
This fawning subservience to Putin is important, not just because of any future Russian plans to meddle in the 2020 election, but because there are several other important global issues where confronting Russia is in the United States’ interests.
It’s odd that Trump’s defiant nationalism of “America First” seems to dissolve when it bumps up against Russia. (And by “odd” I mean Trump, at the very least, knows he can make a lot of money there).