The three words Trump should never utter: ‘Putin told me’

By Steve Benen

But then there are the examples of Trump listening to the one source he seems to trust implicitly: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When Trump canceled military training exercises with our South Korean allies, the decision came after Putin suggested it. When the FBI tried to brief the American president on the capable range of North Korean ballistic missiles. Trump rejected their findings – because, by one account, he’d received competing information from the Russian president.

The Post quoted one former senior White House official who said Trump was quite explicit on this point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit, U.S. intelligence be damned, because “Putin told me.”

I think it’s safe to say those are three words this president should never utter, especially as he embraces the point of a Kremlin-backed disinformation campaign intended to advance Russian interests.

Or put another way, Putin whispering in Trump’s ear that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election was, by some measures, one of the first dominoes that ultimately contributed to the American president’s impeachment.

Common sense suggests it might occur to Trump, at some point, that believing Putin’s deceptions and ignoring the findings of American intelligence professionals gets him into a fair amount of trouble. And yet, for reasons the White House hasn’t explained, Trump can’t seem to help himself.

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