I saw a post on /r/politics that seemed pretty extreme in regards to establishing a friendly, working relationship between Trump’s campaign and Putin. The claims are pretty extreme, so I was encouraged to do some independent research to see if I could verify each one independently. To avoid any claims of bias or misinterpretation or mis-contextualization, I’ve tried to pull quotes directly from Trump himself to verify each point.
Claim #1 – Trump has praised Putin numerous times, calling him a far better leader than Obama.
- Putin’s complements were “an honor” for Trump – Fox News interview with Howard Kurtz
- In 2013 on an MSNBC interview when asked if he had a “conversational relationship with Putin” – “I do have a relationship,” denies it 2 seconds later in the video in an interview 2 years later.
- Same video, CPAC 2014, says Putin sent him a “beautiful present.“
- Trump calls Putin a “liked” and “respected” leader in his country.
- In response to Putin calling him brilliant, he says Putin is “a leader,” compares Putin’s killing of journalists to things our country does, says “that’s the way it is”,
- ““I’ve always felt fine about Putin. I think that he’s a strong leader,” he said. “I think he’s up in the 80s, which is you see where Obama’s in the 30s and the low 40s and he’s up in the 80s.”A June 2016 article by the Politico.
Claim #2 – Donald Trump has taken an anti-NATO stance.
- At a CNN Town Hall, Trump claims “NATO is obsolete.“
- Wolf Blitzer asks “Do you think the United States needs to rethink involvement in NATO?” “Yes.”
- Countries need to pay up for past deficiencies, “and if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.” at a Wisconsin rally.
Claim #3 – Donald Trump’s campaign’s ONLY intervention in the entire GOP platform was to remove anti-Putin language from the platform re: Ukraine.
- From an NPR article – “The Trump campaign convinced the platform committee to change Denman’s proposal. It went from calling on the U.S. to provide Ukraine “lethal defensive weapons” to the more benign phrase “appropriate assistance.”“
- Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort denies that Trump’s campaign changed the language in the bill, though Trump himself confirms it in an interview with ABC. Trump’s own words in that interview – “They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved.”
Claim #4 – Carter Paige, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers traveled to Russia and gave a speech attacking America’s policies towards Russia, calling America’s focus on democratization and fighting inequality “hypocritical.”
- heatst article – “Addressing hundreds of new graduates, Page spoke about world economics and “how to increase potential in unstable times.” In his speech, given just last month on July 7th, Donald Trump’s right-hand man criticized American foreign policy for using cold war stereotypes and “often-hypocritical focus on democratization.” But it wasn’t all doom and gloom– if Trump’s foreign policy chief was against American policy, he loved Putin. Mr. Page publicly complimented Russia, currently aiding Assad in Syria against American-backed rebels, for “really moving ahead.””, here’s a link to the actual speech with the quote time-stamped.
Claim #5 – The Intelligence community has confirmed that Russian Intelligence is responsible for the hacking of the DNC.
- The U.S. government “has reported that intelligence agencies have “high confidence” regarding the Russian government’s involvement.”, according to the New York Times
- “”The weight of the evidence favors an explanation that the Russians leaked the documents to favor Trump, so it is more than a conspiracy theory but still speculative,” Hennessey said.” from Politifact.
Ruling: Half-True, I think “confirmed” is too strong a word to use at this point.
Claim #6 – Donald Trump called on Russia to release/hack any emails they could get their hands on.
- “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” – from Trump himself. More praise for Putin in this video as well.
Claim #7 – Trump’s campaign manager has ties to pro-Putin oligarchs who were propped up by the Kremlin.
- “Manafort also worked as an adviser on the Ukrainian presidential campaign of Viktor Yanukovych (and his Party of Regions during the same time span) from December 2004 until the February 2010 Ukrainian presidential election even as the U.S. government (and McCain) opposed Yanukovych because of his ties to Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.” from Wikipedia.
- Here’s a Politifact article detailing other relationships Manafort has with various Russian entities.
Ruling: Mostly True, I don’t like the plural of “oligarchs” as I can’t find more than one example of a head politician being supported by him.
Claim #8 – Now we know Manafort potentially received a cash payment of more than $12 million.
- The New York Times reports – “Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau.”
I don’t wish to engage in much conjecture here, but the ties between Trump and Putin are starting to become alarming at this point. If Trump himself isn’t directly under the direction of Putin, it seems that many elements of his campaign might be, with or without his knowledge. I’ll leave the speculation up to you guys.