President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have already demonstrated a troubling camaraderie since the U.S. election. Now Trump is once again publicly praising Putin, making his admiration for the Russian strongman — and his disdain for the safety and security of the United States — abundantly clear.
President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday to offer kudos to Russian President Vladimir Putin:
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016
While Trump’s language is ambiguous in terms of exactly what "delay" he is referring to, he makes it very clear to whom his praise is directed. Wanting to make sure this message was seen, Trump even temporarily pinned this tweet to his Twitter profile page (meaning it was the first tweet anyone who went to his profile would have seen):
It's unclear to what "delay" Trump is referring, but most political analysts are interpreting this praise to be in reference to Putin’s statement claiming Russia intends to hold back from responding "in kind" to actions by the Obama administration following Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election:
Putin’s public statement aside, we have no idea whether or not Russia is actually engaging in retaliatory acts of aggression against the United States and/or its interests. It is pertinent to remember that Putin became president of Russia following a career within the KGB, the Russian agency responsible for espionage, propaganda, and psy-ops. The credibility of Putin’s public statements should always be assessed taking this into account, which is something Trump appears either not to realize or to disregard intentionally and repeatedly.
Also of note, irrespective of whether it is by his design, Trump’s tweet is already being used by Russia for propaganda purposes, as is evidenced by the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in the United States retweeting Trump’s comment:
In addition to being used by a foreign power for propaganda purposes, Trump making a statement praising the Russian leader directly contradicts and damages U.S. foreign policy as it is currently being implemented by President Obama and violates the “one president at a time” norm during transition periods between administrations.
Trump’s continuing praise of Putin is also particularly noteworthy because it is happening within a complete vacuum of condemnation by Trump about Russia’s hacking into U.S. political infrastructures, interference in the U.S. presidential election, abuse of U.S. diplomats, and other aggressive acts toward the United States and our NATO allies. As bipartisan condemnation of Russian interference and aggression grows, Trump’s continuing unabashed affection for Putin stands out as egocentric and naive, at best, and potentially traitorous at worst.
While jokes about a “bromance” between Trump and Putin abound on cable news, the reality could not be more serious. The incoming president once again appears to be more concerned with receiving and doling out personal praise than he is with the national security and sovereignty of the United States.
Asked for comment by Shareblue, a senior Democratic aide said: "It's time for Republicans in Congress to speak up." We could not agree more.