Just yesterday, Donald Trump was denying any relationship whatsoever to Russian president Vladimir Putin. But it turns out that during an interview in Russia during 2013, MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts asked the reality show star whether he had a “conversational” relationship, “or anything that you feel you have sway or influence over his government?” And at the time, Trump’s answer was quite different.
“I do have a relationship,” Trump told Roberts while promoting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. “And I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today. He’s probably very interested in what you and I are saying today, and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form. But I do have a relationship with him…”
Trump is now denying any relationship whatsoever to Putin after WikiLeaks dumped thousands of emails, and more recently voicemails, hacked from the Democratic National Committee in a transparent attempt to stir intra-party drama during the Democratic National Convention. Cybersecurity experts largely agree that Russian military intelligence units are responsible for the hacking.
Roberts reviewed the 2013 clip today and talked to Boris Epshteyn, a Trump surrogate, who tried to make the story about Democratic Party disunity and right wing myths about Hillary Clinton. Watch him give zero straight answers:
“I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever,” Trump told CBS4 Miami yesterday. Yet during a Republican debate in November, Trump claimed to have met Putin, and in March he offered his management of the Russian Miss Universe event as an example of relevant foreign policy experience.
A wealth of journalism has recently focused on Trump’s deep ties to Russian oligarchs. His many bankruptcies have rendered him toxic to American banks, forcing Trump to find less-scrupulous sources of investment capital. Criticism has begun to focus on his tax forms, which might contain evidence of Russian financing.
Trump refuses to release his returns, offering specious excuses. Just yesterday, Trump campaign political director Paul Manafort — who engineered the election of Putin’s satellite dictator in Ukraine, sparking the current conflict there — insisted that Trump will still not show them to anyone, and that the reason has “nothing to do with Russia.”
Somehow, I don’t believe them. I don’t believe that Trump has any influence on Putin, or that he doesn’t have a deep relationship to Russian money, or that said money is not connected to the Kremlin. I think he’s a useful puppet with such big ego that he can’t see the strings.
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