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Zirpoli: The curious relationship between Trump and Putin

Conservative commentator Charles Sykes writes that President Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign should really be called “Blame America First.” Indeed, according to Trump, “both sides” are to blame for Russia’s attacks on democracy in America and around the world, its aggression in Ukraine, crimes in Syria, and the murder of journalists and political opponents. Sykes wonders how we went from Ronald Reagan’s call to “tear down this wall” to Trump’s “I hold both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish. And I think we’re all to blame.” It seems that Trump’s remedy for past American foolishness — his words, not mine — is to be a bigger fool.

Stay tuned because Trump wants to schedule, in the words of columnist Maureen Dowd, a “play date” with Putin in the White House. “Hosting the world’s worst bad boy at the White House in the fall will be exciting, like having a friend over whom your parents can’t stand,” writes Dowd.

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Trump blames Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on former President Barack Obama’s “weakness.” Yet, Trump has never been critical of Russia’s aggression, then or now. In fact, most observers could not help but notice how weak Trump appeared with Putin during their Helsinki joint news conference. Trump thought, for example, that turning over American citizens to Russia for interrogation was an idea worth considering. It was an idea he had to consult his advisers about before being told how outrageous an idea it was. Trump thought Obama was weak. But as many have observed, Obama would never give Vladimir Putin the honor of a joint press conference with the President of the United States. As Sykes remarked, can anyone imagine the outrage from conservatives if Obama even considered allowing Putin to interrogate American citizens?

So the big question, of course, is why. Why is Trump afraid of Putin? What leverage does Putin have on Trump that allows him — Putin — to be the only person in the world about whom Trump refuses to voice a negative word, no matter what he does? There are many thoughts on this. Some think that there is a sex tape of Trump in Russia. There might be. But I don’t think this is what keeps Trump in line. After all, everyone knows about Trump’s multiple affairs, his payoffs to keep his lovers quiet, and the numerous complaints of sexual assault against him from about 20 women. These issues don’t concern Trump, in my opinion. Nor do I believe they concern his fans. Indeed, the “family values” mantle of the GOP was discarded by Trump’s fans years ago.

I think Trump is held hostage to Putin because of finances. We know that the banks in Russia are controlled by Putin, directly or indirectly. As stated by Donald Trump Jr., “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” I think Trump owes banks in Russia a lot of money. I think Trump needs Russia to maintain current and future loans that keep his businesses afloat. Trump can’t get American banks to loan him money because he has been bankrupted so many times. But Russia is happy to loan him money — for a price. This is one reason, I believe, that Putin worked so hard to get Trump elected; he knew that he would have leverage with Trump, but not with Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s financial ties with Russia are, I believe, the primary reason he does not want us to see his tax returns. It is also why Trump has appointed so many people to his campaign and to White House positions with Russian connections. I’ve lost track of the number of meetings that have occurred between Trump associates and Russian officials during and after the presidential campaign.

Trump’s disregard for NATO and our European allies is all related to his relationship with Putin. NATO is a threat to Russia and, thus, Trump says negative things about NATO. Our European allies are a threat to Russia and, thus, Trump has repeatedly expressed disdain to our European allies.

Putin is said to be responsible for the poisoning of people in Great Britain. Soon after a British citizen died from this poisoning, Trump was on stage with Putin stating that “I think we’re are all to blame.” According to recent polling, the overwhelming majority of Republicans are OK with this behavior.

I understand Trump’s behavior. What I don’t understand, however, is some of my fellow Americans, who would never accept such treasonous behavior from any other politician, never mind a president.

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