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

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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.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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