The Time Donald Trump Tried to Be Vladimir Putin’s BFF

The GOP candidate now talks tough about the Russian leader, but not long ago he wanted him for a pal.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday to talk about his position on various issues, and when the discussion turned to Russia, the real estate mogul vowed to get tough with President Vladimir Putin. Referring to the Russian leader’s recent provocations, Trump said, “I would call him and say, ‘Don’t do it again.'” But when Blitzer asked Trump whether he had ever met Putin personally, Trump replied with an odd dodge: “I don’t want to say.”

Why not? But whether or not Trump has met with Putin, we know that in 2013, Trump tried to befriend the Russian autocrat and have him attend a Trump event. We know this because Trump tweeted about it.

That year, the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump then co-owned with NBC, was being held in Moscow. (Staging the show in Russia was controversial, given the nation’s recently passed anti-gay laws.) And Trump wanted Putin there. Looking to attract the Russian leader, he issued a ingratiating tweet:

Months later, without an answer, Trump acknowledged that Putin had yet to RSVP, but he insisted Putin was a fan of the pageant: “I know for a fact that he wants very much to come, but we’ll have to see. We haven’t heard yet, but we have invited him.”

Putin never showed. Perhaps he wasn’t eager to become Trump’s new best friend. Trump, though, didn’t take the Putin snub too hard. Last year, he was delighted to share his admiration for Putin.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate