Tags: Donald Trump | Russia | michael mcfaul | vladimir putin | play | trump | ego

McFaul: Putin Will Likely Try to 'Play to Trump's Ego'

MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

By    |   Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 01:07 PM

President Donald Trump will probably like Russian President Vladimir Putin when he meets him in person Friday, as Putin is a "straight shooter and a straight talker," but Putin will most likely try to play to Trump's ego, former Ambassador Michael McFaul said Thursday.

"They are going to bond over things like their common dislike of fake news and the deep state," McFaul told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

"Putin is going to try to play to Trump's ego to say 'you and I need to work together against these enemies, especially those in your country, So that we can do big things together.' That's the thing I fear."

When the two leaders meet, Trump should "engage seriously about American national interests," McFaul said. "He should talk about security and economic interests and his want, his desire to cooperate with Russia, but only if Russia commits to certain kind of conditions."

McFaul said Trump will "absolutely" bring up Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he should.

"Russia violated our sovereignty last year," said McFaul. "Putin knows what it is he did. For Trump not to raise it makes him look weak or ignorant. Neither of those two things are, I think, in President Trump's interests. I think the strategy should be 'I know what you did, if you do it again, there will be serious consequences.' If he doesn't say that, then Putin thinks that he's weak, he's vulnerable, he feels illegitimate."

McFaul said he's been in several meetings between U.S. presidents and Putin, and the Russian leader "does his substantive homework."

"He comes with an agenda," said McFaul. "He also does his psychological homework. He will raise things about people's backgrounds and things they've done 15 years ago. I have seen that before. Here he is trying to build a relationship with Trump. He still believes at the end of the day he can pull Trump towards his agenda and wants to do it."

However, he said, both Putin and Trump can be "prickly" and he is not excluding that the two leaders may come out clashing over something minor during the meeting.

McFaul, appearing later on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," commented that it's important for Trump to remember Putin will have an agenda, and he's not "coming just to chitchat."

"Alleged fake news, the deep state in America, he's going to talk about those things," said McFaul. "So President Trump needs to be prepared how to respond to those kind of accusations. I'm just not sure he's ready yet."

Further, had the United States meddled in Putin's election, Putin would not respond well, said McFaul.

"It is not totally hypothetical," he said. "When Secretary [Hillary] Clinton in 2011 released a rather, what I thought was a rather innocuous statement about criticizing the free and fair process in a parliamentary election, not a presidential election ... he said very publicly that this was meddling in Russia's election, this was a signal to the demonstrators. He pushed back very hard. That's what he expects a strong leader to do."

If Trump does not do that, "he looks weak. He looks scared. He looks like he's afraid of the legitimacy of his presidential election. That is not a good signal to send to someone like Vladimir Putin," said McFaul.

Trump, meanwhile, has spoken about Russia's control of Ukraine and sanctions, and Putin will likely have a different interpretation of events, McFaul told the "Morning Joe" program.

"He will remind the president that Crimea was a part of Russia," said McFaul. "He will tell them about Nazis that took over in the Ukraine and you know he'll try to say, 'these sanctions that were put in place by President [Barack] Obama,'" said McFaul. "They can bond by their mutual dislike of President Obama, that these [sanctions] were illegitimate."

Putin also will likely tell Trump that the sanctions "'get in the way of us doing business after all, are you a businessman? I like to do business, let's move on to an American agenda and put behind this Ukraine thing which, after all, didn't happen on your watch list for the future.'"

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President Donald Trump will probably like Russian President Vladimir Putin when he meets him in person Friday, as Putin is a "straight shooter and a straight talker," but Putin will most likely try to play to Trump's ego, former Ambassador Michael McFaul said Thursday.
michael mcfaul, vladimir putin, play, trump, ego
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2017-07-06
Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 01:07 PM
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