Kremlin-controlled Russian state media set out to tickle U.S. President Trump’s fragile ego amid falling ratings after his blustery appearance at Mount Rushmore on Friday.
Mentioning that the American head of state had previously toyed with the idea he might be featured alongside Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln, Russia’s premier state media channel Rossiya-1 aired a graphic of Trump’s mug right up there on the mountain beside them.
Given the frequent allusions on Russian state media to Trump as Moscow’s friend, even Moscow’s “agent” in the White House, maybe the Kremlin would like to see the enormous monument renamed Mount Russia-More.
But there were signs on Saturday, July 4, that, for now, Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are trying to keep their longstanding bromance in check, at least where the official record is concerned.
Putin sent a telegram congratulating U.S. President Donald J. Trump on America’s Independence Day. Interesting move. By avoiding a phone call Putin also avoided any direct pressure to address reports about the Kremlin paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Prior to the bounty leaks flooding out of the U.S. intelligence community, the calls between Trump and Putin had become unusually frequent, but those revelations put the brakes on the presidential chatter.
Trump—who is at least as reluctant as Putin to discuss the matter—had also avoided calling to congratulate him on Russia’s nationwide vote for constitutional amendments that assure Putin the Russian presidency for life.
The Kremlin described the vote as a “triumphant referendum” demonstrating nationwide confidence in Putin. But only a handful of foreign leaders called to congratulate him, and as they rang in from the presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and South Ossetia the impression of Putin as pariah for life was only heightened.
While Trump was likely given a “Do not congratulate” input from his national security advisors, the old Chekist Putin can most certainly read between the lines. After all, Trump notoriously took Putin’s side in Helsinki, denied Russia’s proven interference in the U.S. elections, essentially abandoned U.S. bases in Syria for the benefit of the Russians, toyed publicly and divisively with the idea of re-admitting Russia to the G8, and threatened to remove nearly a third of U.S. troops from Germany—a midsummer night’s dream for Putin.
Trump-centric Fox News and the GOP follow the lead of America’s most pro-Russian president, churning out talking points that increasingly benefit the Kremlin. Russian state media have aired so many of Tucker Carlson’s comments that the host of Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes Evgeny Popov lovingly described Carlson as “practically our co-host.”
Likewise, instead of concocting its own divisive propaganda, TASS simply quotes Devin Nunes and Mike Pompeo, both of whom sought to find and punish the leakers who exposed the Kremlin’s alleged cash for kills program instead punishing Russia for putting a price on the heads of American soldiers.