A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 14, 2016.
Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP

The bond between Putin and Trump grows stronger

After U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia launched an espionage operation against the American presidential election, in part to help put Donald Trump in the White House, it was tempting to assume the president-elect would temper his frequent praise for Vladimir Putin.

Those assumptions, however, would be wrong. Despite the allegations that a foreign power helped elect America’s president-elect, Trump appears to be cozying up to the Russian autocrat with even greater vigor. The Washington Post reported over the holiday weekend:
President-elect Donald Trump late Friday publicly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for attacking Trump’s former Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

In a striking statement that seems to further align Trump with Putin, the incoming U.S. president tweeted that he agreed with the Russian leader’s assessment that Clinton and the Democratic Party generally have not shown “dignity” following widespread losses in the November election.

“So true!” Trump tweeted of Putin’s comments, apparently referencing statements the Russian made at his year-end news conference.
It’s worth pausing to appreciate the context: a foreign foe publicly mocked Americans, and our president-elect quickly endorsed the criticism, siding with the Russian leader who’s accused of subverting our democratic system. This is the same president-elect who also sided with the Russian leader over U.S. intelligence agencies.

Putin, at his year-end press conference, went on to say in reference to cyber-attacks targeting Democrats, “[I]t’s not important who did the hacking, it’s important that the information that was revealed was true, that is important.”

In a remarkable coincidence, that’s the identical talking point being pushed by pro-Trump Republicans.

Not long after Putin’s press conference, Trump took yet another opportunity to bolster his burgeoning partnership with the Russian president.
President-elect Donald Trump, whose expressed admiration of Vladimir Putin has stirred controversy, released a letter Friday from the Russian leader in which Putin offers his “warmest” Christmas greetings and seeks to restore cooperation with the United States.

“A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct,” Trump said in a statement regarding the Dec. 15 letter. “I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”
The shamelessness is a sight to behold. Confronted with evidence that Trump is indebted to Putin for suspected crimes that helped him win the election, Trump names Putin’s top U.S. ally as his choice for Secretary of State, then endorses Putin’s criticisms of Americans, and then gushes over Putin’s Christmas note.

I half-expect the Russian president to be invited to join Trump on the stage during the swearing-in ceremony on Inauguration Day.

Donald Trump, Russia and Vladimir Putin

The bond between Putin and Trump grows stronger