Why is President Donald J. Trump so enamored of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin? Is it possible he’s envious of the unfettered power Putin wields in his vast nation?
Since taking office on Jan. 20, 2017, Trump has expressed impatience with the principle of checks and balances that is the foundation of our government.
The billionaire real-estate developer from New York City who ran his business by edict must come to terms with the fact that the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are co-equal.
In other words, the U.S. Constitution requires the president to share power with Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump, a political novice when he ran for and won the presidency in 2016, has also opined that the Constitution is archaic. In his view, the founding document falls short in dealing with today’s political realities.
Against that backdrop, it should come as no surprise that Trump has a soft spot for Putin, a former KGB agent. The American president called the Russian strongman Tuesday to congratulate him on his re-election to a fourth term.
The word “strongman” is appropriate given that Putin and members of his inner circle have silenced their critics through a variety of ways, and cleared the field of any opponents in the presidential election.
To put it plainly, the balloting was an exercise in fakery, and yet Putin heard from the leader of the world’s lone superpower. Trump demeaned the office of the presidency by congratulating a power-hungry individual who has vowed to resurrect the old Soviet Union.
Trump has suggested that concerns about Putin’s goal of global domination are overblown and without foundation.
“Only ‘stupid’ people or fools” would dismiss closer ties with Russia, he said before being sworn into office.
“Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” the president-elect argued in January.
Trump hasn’t changed that position despite the fact that Putin and his thuggish regime have been caught red-handed orchestrating a hidden campaign to influence America’s presidential election in Trump’s favor over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
While the president has conceded Russia was responsible for hacking into Democrats’ email accounts, he refuses to point the finger of blame at Putin.
That was glaringly clear when he skirted the issue of Russian interference in the U.S. election while bonding with Putin.
Trump also did not express any concern about the Russian government’s involvement in the poisoning of a former spy on British soil. The British government blamed the Kremlin for the poisoning and expelled 23 Russian diplomats.
The Putin government retaliated by kicking out British diplomats.
But Trump was happy just to exchange pleasantries with the Russian dictator.
“I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race … which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have,” the president said. “Also to discuss Ukraine, Syria and North Korea and other things.”
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a harsh critic of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, did not mince words in his condemnation of Trump’s reaction to Putin’s re-election.
“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” the veteran member of Congress said. McCain chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and has pressed the administration to respond aggressively to Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election.
Last month, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three organizations on charges of interfering in the election. Three of Trump’s associates – former national security adviser Michael Flynn, deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and campaign aide George Papadopoulos – have pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate.
Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has pleaded not guilty to a variety of money laundering and other criminal charges.