News & Politics

'Putin Is the Puppet Master': British Reporter Says the Russian President Is Making Trump 'Dance'

'It was almost hard to tell which one of them was the Russian president."

Photo Credit: Washington Post YouTube video

Even with expectations for President Donald Trump's performance at his Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin set at rock-bottom levels, Trump still produced a debacle even worse than his critics had anticipated.

Trump essentially sided with the Russian president over the issue of interference in the 2016 election, saying Putin wouldn't have had any reason to do so.

"It was almost hard to tell which one of them was the Russian president," said Luke Harding, a foreign correspondent for the Guardian, on MSNBC. "I mean, not just denying any kind of election interference, but the tone and manner. The thing for me is: Why did Trump behave like this?"

He continued: "Well, you might say it's because he can't admit that the Russians helped him across the line in 2016 because this delegitimizes him in some way. I think — I'm speaking to you from London where Christopher Steele, the British spy lives and was based. I think his thesis that the Russians have compromising material on Donald Trump is still there, it's still in play, and I would say we saw that in action very much today."

MSNBC host Katy Tur acknowledged that Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) had made a similar point.

"He could have called Putin out," Harden said of Trump. "He could have threatened further sanctions. He could have said there will be expulsions. He could have demanded these 12 Russian military intelligence officers' heads on a plate. He didn't do that."

Instead, Harden argued, Trump did exactly what Putin wanted.

"What we actually got back from Putin quite publicly was, I would say, a rather subtle trolling. When, for example, Putin said that there couldn't possibly be kompromat — 'compromising information' on Trump because, back in 2013, he didn't know who Donald Trump was. Now, that's not true. It's a non sequitur, it's a non-denial denial. We had a line from the U.S. president saying, if there was anything, it would have come out by now. I think that's wishful thinking," said Harding.

He added: "It feels like Putin is the puppet master and he is making Donald trump dance around in front of the world to his Russian tune."

Watch the clip below:

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.