Donald Trump, according to a former top national security adviser, admired Russia’s Vladimir Putin and wished to “stay in power forever” like the strongman leader.
“He saw Putin as the kind of the epitome of the badass populist, frankly, you know, the kind of person that he wanted to be: super-rich, super-powerful, no checks and balances, and essentially being able to stay in power forever,” Fiona Hill, who previously served as senior director for Europe and Russia on Trump’s National Security Council, told Molly Jong-Fast on an episode of The New Abnormal podcast on Sunday.
Trump’s friendship with Putin has long been attacked since the former president frequently appeared to defend the autocratic Russian president in public before and during his presidency.
Putin has been president or prime minister of Russia since 1999, a period of more than two decades. Throughout his time as Russia’s president, he has been accused of imprisoning, poisoning, and killing his critics and political opponents.
Hill also told Jong-Fast that Putin appeared to utilize women to divert Trump’s attention away from him during their meetings.
“Putin made a big point, a big show of introducing Trump to the [female] interpreter,” Hill said. “Here’s a really pretty woman. She’s also a brilliant interpreter, but it was clearly meant to get Trump to look at her and not to be paying attention to what Putin was saying,” the former Trump administration official explained.
According to Hill, Putin appeared to purposefully try to trigger President Donald Trump’s germaphobia during their June 2019 summit.
Putin coughed or cleaned his throat repeatedly during the closed-door meeting, Hill stated. She stated that it appeared that Putin was doing all he could to trigger Trump’s germaphobia.
Trump is well-known for his aversion to germs and obsession with personal hygiene. “You get the scowl if you’re the perpetrator of a cough or a sneeze or any type of thing that makes you seem sick,” a former Trump campaign official stated.
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Trump has frequently praised Putin and his leadership of Russia. Many in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, have expressed alarm about the former president’s apparent fondness for Putin, given Russia has long been viewed as the US’s main global opponent.
Democrats scrutinized and investigated the former president’s ties to Russia, with some alleging that he was corrupted by Putin because of his financial and economic ties to the country. The ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 were investigated as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian intervention in the presidential election.
Many Democrats claimed Trump conspired with Russia to sabotage former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. Mueller’s investigation determined that Russia meddled in the election to help Trump, but it found no proof that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.
Trump and his administration have consistently rebuffed charges that he is working for Russia’s benefit. The former president would point to his administration’s tough sanctions against Russia, as well as his decision to arm Ukraine in the midst of its ongoing battle with Russia. Trump also opposed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will transport Russian natural gas to Europe and is being built between Russia and Germany.