The Slatest

Putin Woos Trump by Saying “Deep State” and “Fake News” Are Against Their Friendship

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump talk as they attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump talk as they attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017.
AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to know just what to say to get on his American counterpart’s good side. And, not surprisingly, it involves lots of talk about “fake news” and the “deep state.” A Washington Post piece that has several interesting details about how Trump often treats relationships with global leaders as personal affairs rather than state interests, details how Putin echoes Trump’s words in an effort to get on his good side.

One “senior U.S. official” said that Putin often complains that the “fake news” and the “deep state” are conspiring against the two of them becoming friends. The senior official summarized Putin’s message to Trump: “It’s not us … It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.” In part that may be why Trump takes a far more conciliatory stance toward Putin than to traditional U.S. allies.

That stance was on full display at a rally in Montana earlier this week, when Trump said Putin was “fine,” mocking those who say he is naive about how to best handle the Russian president. “I might even end up having a good relationship [with Putin], but they’re going ‘well, president Trump, be prepared, president Putin is KGB’, this and that,” he said at the rally. “Do you know what? Putin’s fine, he’s fine, we’re all fine, we’re people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I have been preparing for this stuff my whole life, they don’t say that.” There’s broad concern that by echoing the language of his base, Putin is essentially playing Trump, using the U.S. president’s lack of interest in details to get on his good side.

That lack of preparation is part of what worries administration officials who say the president rarely reads his briefing book that details the issues that may come up in meetings with world leaders. And he often likes to do things himself, like when he gave Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau his personal phone number and the two chatted without anyone else at the White House knowing.

Meanwhile, Trump once again put his “fake news” obsession on display Saturday, questioning why Twitter doesn’t get rid of the accounts of some of the biggest U.S. news organizations now that it’s working to rid the network of fake accounts. “Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Will that include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post, who constantly quote anonymous sources that, in my opinion, don’t exist - They will both be out of business in 7 years!”