Former President Donald Trump was ridiculed for quoting Russian leader Vladimir Putin during a campaign rally in Houston, Texas to prove to anyone who will listen that he was "tough on Russia" as president.
Addressing a crowd of supporters, Trump responded to the criticism that his administration had not been sufficiently stringent in its dealings with Russia.
He firmly stated:
“They say ‘Trump wasn’t tough on Russia,’ I was so tough on Russia. Putin said, ‘If you’re not tough now, I’d hate like hell to see you if you weren’t tough.'"
You can hear what Trump said in the video below.
Trump's comments were part of his speech discussing his administration's response to the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. The pipeline project aims to increase the export of natural gas from Russia to Germany and has been a subject of controversy.
The former President has previously made claims about having "ended" the Nord Stream 2 project, as he did at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference. However, these claims have been thoroughly debunked. Additionally, Trump misleadingly asserted that President Joe Biden "approved" the project.
Following Trump's remarks, social media users on X, formerly known as Twitter, responded with a mix of mockery and humor, with many highlighting Trump's history of praising Putin.
In December 2019, Trump did indeed sign a law imposing sanctions on companies providing assistance to Russia's state-owned gas firm, Gazprom, in the completion of a pipeline extending into the European Union.
The United States views this project as a security threat to Europe. Despite strong condemnation from both Russia and the European Union, Congress approved these sanctions as part of a defense bill at the time.
But PolitiFact.com—the Pulitzer-winning fact-checking service—provided a more nuanced perspective, highlighting that while Trump had sanctioned Russia, his friendly approach to Putin sent conflicting signals. In contrast, President Biden has maintained sanctions but has also "sought flexibility as part of diplomatic negotiations."
Trump's remarks during the rally came over a month after he gloated because Putin had praised his commitment to "resolve all burning issues within several days, including the Ukrainian crisis." Trump had claimed during a CNN town hall that he would end the Ukraine war in just 24 hours.