The fact that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and a butcher doesn’t bother Donald Trump. He even jokes about Putin being KGB. But Putin did finally offend Trump’s sensibilities when he released a propaganda video earlier this year showing missiles raining down on Florida. Trump raged at Putin over the phone, saying, “I’ve already increased defense spending, modernized our nuclear weapons…We can do more, so if you want to do an arms race you’ll lose.” Axios:
- The call happened on Tuesday, March 20. You might remember this call; it was the one in which the Washington Post revealed that Trump had ignored his aides’ advice printed on note cards — “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” — and went ahead and congratulated Putin on his election victory.
- In the source’s recollection, Trump told Putin he thought it was “outrageous” that he’d put out the nuclear weapons video.
- Trump said, “I called up Theresa [May] and Angela [Merkel] and they agree with me,” the source recalled.
- “And the other day, I saw you say you need a new arms deal,” Trump told Putin, in the source’s recollection. “So I guess that was just election talk. I’m glad to hear you weren’t serious about it.”
This was the first time Trump had ever directly criticized Putin, the source said, “Usually it’s a bit of a love fest.” Apparently it had never occurred to Trump that if Putin nuked us into oblivion that would include him. The video was considered outrageous.
- At the time, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said on CNN that “one of the stunning aspects” of the demonstration video was that the Russians “would actually use an absolutely recognizable part of the United States to show where the targeting was.”
- “Clearly he [Putin] wanted us to see that,” Hayden said.
Trump stayed publicly silent. But privately, he raged. He told aides he understood this was Putin playing up to the crowds for his election but even so it was “over the line,” said a source familiar with Trump’s private comments.
Trump has no problem saying outrageous things to gin up his own base, but he doesn’t like somebody else doing it.
The White House has no comment.