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Why a former Trump appointee’s pro-Russia rhetoric matters

Retired Col. Douglas Macgregor wants the U.S. to let Putin do as he pleases in Ukraine, which brings to mind Macgregor’s role on Team Trump.


Far too many conservative voices have expressed support for Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor appeared on Fox News yesterday and went further than most. The Washington Post reported:

He argued that the United States should “absolutely” just let Putin take what he wants in Ukraine — even calling for lifting sanctions. Macgregor said he was sure that Putin had “no interest in crossing the west” of Ukraine and would settle for the east. He cited Ukraine’s history of corruption and said that “more important, the population there is indistinguishable from [Russia’s] own.”

Jennifer Griffin, Fox’s longtime national security correspondent, found Macgregor’s excessive rhetoric hard to take. Indeed, she said MacGregor sounded like “an apologist for Putin.”

At face value, MacGregor’s pro-Russia rhetoric may seem largely forgettable. After all, there have been plenty of other conservative voices pushing similar lines lately, and most of them went ignored for good reason.

But what stood out about yesterday’s on-air appearance was why MacGregor’s name sounded so familiar.

As regular readers may recall, Donald Trump not only held Macgregor in high regard, the former president also wanted the retired colonel to hold public office in his administration. In fact, Trump’s original plan was to make Macgregor the U.S. ambassador to Germany.

That plan collapsed when Macgregor’s record of offensive rhetoric came to light: During Fox News appearances, the retired colonel peddled strange conspiracy theories about George Soros, criticized Europe for being welcoming toward “Muslim invaders,” and spoke in support of using deadly force against those who try to immigrate to the United States illegally.

The diplomatic nomination was quickly derailed without so much as a hearing.

But the Republican White House remained determined to find an important post for Macgregor, and after Trump’s defeat, the outgoing president gave the retired colonel a leading position at the Pentagon.

Trump also named Macgregor to a West Point advisory board — a post from which Macgregor made appearances on a Kremlin-backed media outlet.

And now Macgregor is still at it, calling on the United States to let Putin do as he pleases with Ukraine without consequence, which reminds me of the time Trump assured voters he would surround himself only with “the best and most serious people.”