Donald Trump has few consistent policies, aside from racism and an absolute certainty in his own genius, but one of the most consistent is that Vladimir Putin’s Russian kleptocracy is probably innocent of whatever international crime they are being accused of. This has come up again with news of one of the other phone calls likely shuffled off to the White House’s codeword-secret server, a 2018 conversation with Britain’s then-prime minister Theresa May that apparently included May attempting to convince His Pumpkinness that her country had plenty of evidence that it was the Russian government responsible for poisoning a Russian double agent residing in Britain using a Russian government-developed nerve gas in a manner characteristic of recent other Russian government assassinations or attempted assassinations.
It didn’t go well. The Washington Post cites one administration or ex-administration source who complained: “Trump was totally bought into the idea that there was credible doubt about the poisoning. A solid 10 minutes of the conversation is spent with May saying it’s highly likely and him saying he’s not sure.”
This news was immediately praised by the ever-trolling Russian government, of course:
Best evidence that no evidence of Russian involvement exists.https://t.co/nvUojfCmLo
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) October 6, 2019
Ah yes, the “best” evidence of innocence possible on the international stage: Explain the crime to the world’s dumbest leader; if he cannot grasp what everyone is going on about, the accused has now been vindicated. A foolproof system.
But why is Trump so stubbornly unsure? What secret well of information is he drawing his own contrarian conclusions from? It is a mystery. What we do know, and the Post again confirms from its own sources, is that Trump’s conversations with Putin and other authoritarians tend to feature him bubbling with praise and Trump’s conversations with NATO partners and other allies tend to feature “haranguing” and general obnoxiousness.
We’re likely never going to hear the Trump-Putin phone calls tucked away on the top secret server—at least, not from American officials. It is all but certain that regardless of any order to preserve them, those conversations and others will be “accidentally” deleted, after which the secret server will “accidentally” fall into a filled White House bathtub, after which the bathtub will accidentally fall out of a military plane accidentally rerouted to the exact center of the Atlantic Ocean.
But the likelihood is also high that there is nothing particularly damaging on those calls. Trump is a buffoon, easily led by flattery and astonishingly willing to believe anything he hears, if the talker is someone he has seen on his television set. Putin could simply muse to him that it was perhaps the Australians that poisoned the Russian ex-spy, and Donald would believe it. Putin could tell him that Actually, Russia is not meddling in Ukraine, or that Actually it was any of Trump’s most obsessed-over enemies that was responsible for hacking the DNC servers—perhaps Elijah Cummings?—and the Fox News dotard would have it stuck in his head forever, and repeat it to his own staff as if it were now God’s own truth.
That is the sad truth behind the narcissist Trump. The man is a patsy, willing to believe whatever you ask him to believe if it results in the praise he cannot do without. You don’t need to have “dirt” to twist him around your finger; say the right things, and you can do it in the span of a few commercial breaks.