Former President Donald Trump told Fox Business on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has seemingly changed since two men were dealing with one another during the Trump administration.
This, according to Brietbart’s account of the interview.
Speaking with Fox Business’ “Varney & Company,” Trump said that Putin “seems to be different” than the person he had routinely been in contact with when he was president. When asked if he respected Putin, Trump reiterated his sense that something had changed. He said that “[Putin] is a different person. I’ll tell you something — I got along with him, and look, I got along with him loving this country, and he loves his country, OK? But he’s a different person than he was. He seems to be different. He looks different. He looks different. He’s a different person.”
At that point, host Stuart Varney pointedly asked about Putin: “Is he sane? Is he solid mentally?”
Again suggesting a sense of something having shifted, without offering too many specifics, Trump responded that “it just doesn’t seem to be the same person that I was dealing with. We had a decent relationship. It was very hard because of the Russia hoax, you know.”
As Trump noted, his administration was dogged by allegations, unproven, that his election campaign had colluded with Moscow in 2020. It was apparently a topic that came up for repeated discussion when Trump spoke with Putin on other global issues.
“And I told him. I said, you know, it’s very hard for me to do anything for Russia and for you to do anything because these horrible, horrible people that are, you know, perpetrating this hoax, the Russia, Russia, Russia collusion nonsense, millions of phone calls; I never made one to Russia. Think of it. Millions of calls. They went through the phone records — millions of calls, not one call to Russia. It was a total hoax,” Trump added.
Democrat critics have assailed Trump in the past for seeming to express too much admiration for Putin, leader of a totalitarian government that’s long been the enemy of democracy. He has dismissed such claims as part of the hoax.
Trump was also criticized for referring to Putin as smart and savvy as the Russian leader invaded Ukraine last month. Trump quickly dismissed the dustup over his comments as part of an effort by the mainstream media to distract from the weaknesses of President Joe Biden and NATO — weaknesses of leadership that essentially laid out a “welcome mat” for Moscow to invade.
“The RINOs, warmongers, and fake news continue to blatantly lie and misrepresent my remarks on Putin because they know this terrible war being waged against Ukraine would have never happened under my watch,” Trump wrote in a statement from his Save America PAC.