Trump’s lack of preparation has added a further level of unpredictability to his interactions with foreign leaders, the officials said. The president rarely reads his nightly briefing book, which focuses on issues likely to come up in meetings, a second senior U.S. official said. To slim down Trump’s workload, aides have sometimes put the most critical information in a red folder, the official said.
In November and again in March, Trump invited Putin to the White House for a summit against the advice of aides, who argued that the chances of progress on substantive issues was slim.
For Trump, the meeting was the point. In an interview with Fox News last month, Trump speculated that he and Putin could potentially hash out solutions to Syria and Ukraine over dinner.
“I could say: ‘Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria,’ ” Trump said. “ ‘Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Ukraine.’ ”
Some White House officials worry that Putin, who has held several calls with Trump, plays on the president’s inexperience and lack of detailed knowledge about issues while stoking Trump’s grievances.
The Russian president complains to Trump about “fake news” and laments that the U.S. foreign policy establishment — the “deep state,” in Putin’s words — is conspiring against them, the first senior U.S. official said.
“It’s not us,” Putin has told Trump, the official summarized. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”
So to be clear Trump gave Putin his personal cell number so that they could have conversations without oversight, without an official transcript, and during these conversations, Putin is heaping praise on Trump and then using his fears of persecution to convince him to sabotage America’s relationships with our country’s allies and instead place all of his trust in Putin.
This is turning into an even bigger shit show than any of us predicted during the 2016 campaign.