Did Trump Call Russian President Vladimir Putin a Genius? Not Exactly


Mar. 31 2022, Published 1:08 p.m. ET

Former U.S. President Donald Trump manages to stay in the news all the time despite leaving the White House in 2021. Recently, he faced controversy for his comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin. Many are critical of Trump for praising Putin and calling him a “genius.”

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What exactly did Trump say about Putin? Did Trump call Putin a genius? Keep reading to find out.

Trump was soft on Russia during his presidency.

During his presidency, many believed that Trump was soft on Russia. He had even talked about adding Russia to the G7, an idea that didn't find resonance with other G7 members.

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Incidentally, Russia was accused of meddling with the 2016 U.S. election where Trump emerged victoriously. While the Senate Intelligence Committee didn't find any evidence that votes were changed or any manipulation in the voting machines, it didn't give Russia a complete pass.

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The report said, “Throughout 2016 and for several years before, Russian intelligence services and government personnel conducted a number of intelligence-related activities targeting the voting process.”

Trump did say that Putin is “smart.”

At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump said “The problem is not that Putin is smart, which, of course, he's smart.” He also termed the current U.S. leadership as “dumb.” However, he added that the U.S. leadership “allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity.”

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Trump has also called upon Russia to release information about Hunter Biden. Many have been critical of Trump for seeking favors from Russia at such a critical juncture.

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Trump said that Putin’s strategy is “genius.”

Trump also said that Putin declaring a big portion of Ukraine’s territory as an independent territory was a “genius" move. Meanwhile, Trump has clarified that he didn't call Putin a genius. Trump said that he called his strategy of amassing massive Russian troops on the Ukraine border genius since it would have helped him negotiate a better deal.

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Trump has never shied away from his “deal-making capabilities” himself and boasted of it several times during his tenure. To Trump's credit, he managed to renegotiate NAFTA and also got China to agree to a trade deal to lower the trade deficit with the U.S. However, the U.S.-China trade deal has been in oblivion since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump lashed out at “fake media” again.

Trump hasn’t had a good relationship with the media. He lashed out at the media again for twisting his comments. He said, “The Fake News said I called him a genius during the war. No, I was describing the great negotiating posture he had prior to the unfortunate decision to enter Ukraine and fight. There was nothing 'genius' about that!"

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Why is Trump speaking out about Putin and Russia?

Trump tried to use Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to show the Biden administration in poor light. Going by his statement literally, he praised Putin's strategy. But then, that isn't much different than calling Putin a smart leader.

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The Biden administration’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal wasn’t up to the mark and could have been handled much better. However, when it comes to Russia, the administration doesn't have much leeway.

Biden has been quite clear that a direct confrontation with Russia would mean World War III, something that no one wants. However, the administration has taken several steps like sanctions, strengthening NATO, and supplying arms to Ukraine in repose to Russia’s invasion.


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