And on Wednesday night, the former president’s delusions were on full display on Fox News, when he traced Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine back to the 2020 presidential election.
“He sees the weakness and stupidity of this administration,” Trump said of the Russian president. “As an American, I am angry and saddened. It happened because of a rigged election.”
Trump doesn’t seem all that sad. He couldn’t help but express admiration for Putin in a speech Wednesday at Mar-a-Lago, saying, “I mean, he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart.”
Trump also said that “never in a million years” would such an invasion have happened during his presidency. He couldn’t help but boast of Putin, “I know him very well.”
His comments Wednesday are similar to ones he made in a radio interview Tuesday, when he again called the Russian leader “smart.”
“Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper,” Trump said. “That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.”
Throughout his presidency, Trump seemed enamored by Putin and his control over his country, frequently siding with the Russian leader. He dismissed his own intelligence community’s warnings about Russian meddling around the time of the 2020 election ― and its conclusions in 2016 ― saying he liked Putin, and Putin liked him.
He even urged Russia to hack presidential rival Hillary Clinton’s emails in July 2016.
As president in 2018, Trump reportedly broke with U.S. allies by siding with Russia in its invasion of the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014. BuzzFeed News reported that Trump said it was Putin’s right to lay claim to it because so many people there spoke Russian.
Trump also suspended military aid to Ukraine to force the country to come up with dirt on Biden’s son Hunter during the 2020 campaign.
But Trump’s love of Putin actually goes back earlier, extending to the time before he was president.
“Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow ― if so, will he become my new best friend?” he tweeted in 2013.
Fox News went to Trump soon after Putin publicly announced that he had launched a military operation in Ukraine. And on Thursday morning in the country, there were reports of explosions in some major cities there.
In a statement, Biden called it “a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”
A White House official said Biden will deliver a speech Thursday afternoon announcing “further consequences” for Russia. Already, the United States has cut off two major Russian banks from U.S. financing.