The Questions Raised by Trump’s Relationship With Putin

Just as we aren’t likely to ever know what happened during the initial meeting between Trump and Putin, Aaron Blake put that question aside when he wrote about the second previously undisclosed meeting between them during a dinner at the G20 meeting in Germany. Instead, he asks:

Why did Trump see fit to do something that may look so suspicious and raise even more concerns about his relationship with Russia? And why did he and/or the White House not disclose it?

Blake then shares three different theories in response:

1. There is something nefarious going on
2. Trump is oblivious to how this might be perceived
3. Trump is simply addicted to causing controversy

It would be a serious mistake for anyone to assume that any one of those excludes the others.

I would encourage you to listen to what Ian Bremmer, who initially broke this story about the second Trump/Putin meeting, said to Charlie Rose about it.

He too avoids the question we’ll never have an honest answer to and discusses why Trump would do something like this. An important piece Bremmer adds is that this meeting happened in full view of most of the attendees of the G20 meeting. What that communicates to our allies—many of whom see Putin as a dangerous aggressor—is a significant part of the story.

Bremmer provides us with the context in which this relationship between Trump and Putin has developed:

  • The focus on the investigation into whether or not they colluded to influence the 2016 election
  • U.S. and Russia have national interests that are as dissonant as they’ve been since Andropov
  • Trump has flipped on everything except his approach to Russia

We know that Trump likes autocrats and so that goes a long way in explaining his fascination with Putin. We also know that his ignorance and arrogance probably lead him to be oblivious to how something like this is perceived. I’m not so sure that he loves controversy as much as he requires the kind of attention it brings, and has established a pattern of how to get it. Those are things that already go a long way towards explaining why this man is unfit for the office of the presidency. But do they provide us with enough of a rationale to explain what he’s doing with Putin? That is the question on the minds of sentient beings as this point.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.