Last weekend, we were graced with a whole new batch of foibles of the Trump administration, this time from the perspective of onetime adviser Fiona Hill and couched in a New York Times Magazine article titled “This Was Trump Pulling a Putin.”
You might remember Hill’s emergence on the national scene during the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump. An expert on Russia, she had worked under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and testified on Trump’s plan to use foreign policy to try to get dirt on his political opponents (namely, the Bidens).
A good chunk of Draper’s story is about how Hill believes January 6 was presaged by Trump’s policies toward Putin. It recounts Hill’s belief that not only Trump’s but Bush’s and Obama’s policies toward Putin set the stage for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
I have my doubts on these fronts, which seem both Trump and US-centric. Still, it’s worth reading Draper’s piece to get a glimpse at just how ridiculous former President Trump’s dealings with Vladimir Putin actually were—and all the other wacky shit Hill says she witnessed during Trump’s tenure.
A few choice tidbits, all according to Hill:
- Upon meeting Hill for the first time, she says Trump mistook her for a secretary (she was the senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council) and “became angry that she did not immediately agree to retype a news release for him.”
- Trump informed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that most Americans’ idea of Turkey comes from the prisons in Midnight Express: “Bad image—you need to make a different film.”
- Trump would ask to send magazine articles to the likes of Erdogan and French president Emmanuel Macron if the stories included flattering pictures of the leaders. Often, the text of the article was anything but. That didn’t matter: Trump wanted to make sure that his peers on the world stage knew when they were “looking strong.”
- In a conversation with former German chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as “Senator Pocahontas.” Merkel was aghast.
- Trump did his shtick about hating windmills—to the prime minister of Norway.
- Trump didn’t see why Crimea shouldn’t be a part of Russia. They speak Russian there, after all.
A lot of the wild things that happened during the Trump administration do not get much attention because many find the discussion of the Russia investigation, and connections with Russia, overplayed and boring. I get it. But sometimes that means you miss out on Trump telling a Turkish president to make a movie.