(CNN)Much has been made by Donald Trump and his allies that Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t invade Ukraine until the Republican had left office.
“Make no mistake, however, then Russia would not have dared to annex one inch of territory if I was in the White House,” Trump told a crowd in South Carolina over the weekend. “In fact, they never did it when I was there. A lot of people ask the question, ‘how come they never did it when Trump was president and China?’ He said they knew better. Yeah that’s true.”
Now, Eric Trump — the second-eldest son of the former President — thinks he knows why that is.
“Putin was in with KGB,” Eric Trump told Fox’s Sean Hannity on Monday night. “He can read people and he could tell that Donald Trump was a very strong person.”
First off, Eric’s comment — almost certainly unintentionally — is an echo of what George W. Bush once said about Putin.
“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy,” said Bush of Putin following a summit in Slovenia in June 2001. “We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”
That comment was widely mocked at the time and, obviously, with the hindsight of history, looks even worse.
Eric Trump’s insistence that, somehow, Putin made a psychological assessment of his father and that’s why he didn’t invade Ukraine is also ripe for mockery.
(Meanwhile, John Bolton, who served as Donald Trump’s national security adviser, suggested recently on a podcast that Putin may have waited to invade Ukraine because he thought Trump would pull the United States out of NATO if he won reelection.)
Plus, consider what we already know about Russia and Trump — namely that Russia actively worked to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump.
“First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents. The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.”
Remembering those facts makes Trump’s oft-repeated assertion that “no one” was tougher than him on Russia seem laughable. And it makes Eric Trump’s insistence that Putin knew his father was “a very strong person” equally humorous.