Years after he infamously sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. Intelligence officials who confirmed the Russian government sought to interfere with the 2016 election to benefit him, former President Donald Trump continues to heap praise upon the authoritarian leader.
Ahead of Putin's brutal ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Trump lauded Putin's strategy as "smart" and even "genius." Now, in a new interview with right-wing Fox News host, Sean Hannity, Trump bragged about his relationship with the Russian President.
As Fox News played clips of the casualties of Putin's war, Trump told Hannity:
"One way or the other, I knew Putin very well. Almost as well as I know you, Sean. And I will tell you, we talked about [Ukraine]. We talked about it a lot. He did want Ukraine, but I said, 'You're not going into Ukraine.'"
For those who may not know, Trump and Hannity have long been close. A 2018 New York Magazine report detailed Trump's and Hannity's frequent "late night calls," which occurred nearly every night of the week. Also, in 2018, the Fox News host also spoke onstage at a Trump rally—an action for which he faced a reprimand from the network. When a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the United States Capitol, Hannity was texting Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to urge Trump to intervene.
So it's no flippant sentiment for Trump to claim he knows Putin as well as Hannity, and social media users called him out.
Others said Trump only knew Putin to the extent that Putin wanted to use him.
Putin's aggression toward Ukraine has resulted in thousands of casualties with no signs of stopping.