Trump and Putin at G20 in Hamburg
Credit: Алексей М/Flickr

If we have learned nothing else about Donald Trump over the last few years it’s that he lies almost every time he opens his mouth. Apparently he can’t even tell the truth about where his father was born. That is something the president shares with Vladimir Putin. I suspect that the Russian leader’s lies are a bit more calculated, however. Here is what Peter Pomerantsev wrote about that:

The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action…

The point of this new propaganda is not to persuade anyone, but to keep the viewer hooked and distracted—to disrupt Western narratives rather than provide a counternarrative. It is the perfect genre for conspiracy theories, which are all over Russian TV…

Ultimately, many people in Russia and around the world understand that Russian political parties are hollow and Russian news outlets are churning out fantasies. But insisting on the lie, the Kremlin intimidates others by showing that it is in control of defining ‘reality.’ This is why it’s so important for Moscow to do away with truth. If nothing is true, then anything is possible.

It is important to keep all of that in mind as these two leaders meet in private and emerge to talk about their discussion. I’m pretty sure that a lot of ink will be spilled reporting on what they talked about. But the truth is, we won’t know, and any journalist who assumes that we do based on what Trump and Putin say they talked about is playing a fool’s game.

I would remind you that this is not the first time during his presidency that Trump has met with Putin alone. Contrary to what was reported about that meeting, Martin Longman laid out all of the evidence that at least one of the things they discussed was a cover story (i.e., a lie) for the meeting between Don, Jr. and other campaign officials with the Russians in Trump Tower in June of 2016. It is very possible that, based on Trump’s actions in the coming days and weeks we’ll eventually get some idea of what he talked about with Putin today. But it surely won’t come from either of the principals involved. They will simply lie and tell us what they want us to believe.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.