MSNBC political analyst Elise Jordan pointed out in a Wednesday afternoon panel that Putin did not appear to be targeting Trump, but rather the “ruling elites” in the US.
“Putin chose to call out America’s ruling elites for their posture towards Russia,” Jordan said. “He wasn’t necessarily calling out Donald Trump. He was calling out people in national security circles who want a stronger stance.”
Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, said that was a “great observation.”
“It’s a pattern we’ve seen for a couple of years,” the ex-ambassador said. “Putin always talks about this ‘deep state, the foreign policy elite’ — he’s talking about me, he’s talking about us when he says that.”
“It’s a way for him to distance his relationship with President Trump,” McFaul added. “He’s still holding out the idea that if he could just work with Trump, they could resolve these kinds of issues. And it’s new, he didn’t talk that way during the Obama Administration.
Trump’s apparent echoing of his Russian counterpart makes their off-the-record conversations all the more concerning, McFaul said.
“We’ve seen time and time again that when Trump and Putin get together, President Putin spins lies and disinformation that President Trump accepts,” he said.
“So we’ve heard that he thinks that North Korean missiles can’t attack us,” McFaul detailed. “We’ve heard that people like me in Helsinki were involved in some cockamamie scheme to launder money out of Russia to help the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. We’ve heard crazy stories about how the people in Montenegro are going to start World War III. All of that is Putin disinformation.”
It’s shocking, he added, “that the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the United States, parrots it. That’s very troubling.”