The Kremlin has released an English version of an interview with Vladimir Putin originally done for Austrian television. The transcript contains some statements that … are not nearly as surprising as they should be.
Putin: Donald Trump and I have, firstly, met more than once at various international venues and secondly, we regularly talk over the phone.
What Putin means by “regularly” isn’t clear. In addition to the congratulations call Donald Trump made after Putin “won” his latest non-contest, Trump made a call inviting Putin for a visit. Trump has apparently conducted at least one additional call which was not on the White House schedule, but the contents are not known. But ‘regularly’ would seem to suggest a more frequent interval than once or twice a year.
Recently, it’s become clear that Trump is continuing to use an unsecured phone. It is not clear whether all calls from this phone are logged or recorded. Even when Trump uses the official White House phone, one call in 2017 was followed by Russian sources providing a multi-paragraph transcript, while the White House provided … nothing. Sources indicated that the normal recording devices had been turned off during the call. During at G20 meeting in July 2017, Trump and Putin conducted a covert meeting, without even a translator present on the U.S. side. The meeting was not disclosed until reports emerged days later.
In addition to letting everyone know that he and Trump stay in close contact, Putin’s transcript shows that he and Trump are aligned on issues that are critical for Fox News viewers. Asked about the hackers indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, Putin declared they were not worth worrying about, and dismissed them as inconsequential. However …
Putin: There is such a person in the United State–Mr Soros, who interferes in all affairs around the world. I often hear from my American friends that ‘America as a state has nothing to do with [his activities]’. There are rumours circulating now that Mr Soros is planning to make the euro highly volatile. Experts are already discussing this. Ask the State Department why he is doing this. The State Department will say that it has nothing to do with them – rather it is Mr Soros’ private affair.
Maybe this is what Trump and Putin talk about—stories based on Sean Hannity claims. Because nothing smooths over a partnership between two wealthy autocrats like a shared case of anti-Semitism.