Here’s What Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump Talk About When No One Else Is Listening

Someone is being gamed here.

Vladimir Putin

Metzel Mikhail/TASS via ZUMA Press

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

What do President Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin talk about during their occasional phone calls? According to a sobering piece from the Washington Post, it’s exactly what you’d expect—fake news, the deep state, and…friendship:

Some White House officials worry that Putin, who has held several calls with Trump, plays on the president’s inexperience and lack of detailed knowledge about issues while stoking Trump’s grievances.

The Russian president complains to Trump about “fake news” and laments that the U.S. foreign policy establishment—the “deep state,” in Putin’s words—is conspiring against them, the first senior U.S. official said.

“It’s not us,” Putin has told Trump, the official summarized. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”

Appealing to the president’s vanity is 101-level stuff for heads of state and members of Congress. But it also speaks to the remarkable success of Putin’s own efforts that the language with which he strokes the president’s ego is itself a byproduct of Russia’s own election interference. “Fake news” was a Russian propaganda effort and the “deep state,” in Trump-speak, refers to the ongoing investigation into how Team Trump reacted to that meddling. It’s a disinformation feedback loop and we’re all stuck in it.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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