Former President Donald Trump has, for the second time in two days, praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as ‘smart’ for his strategy in Ukraine as the Kremlin’s ‘special military operation’ began.
Trump, speaking at a super PAC fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, spoke off the cuff about the impending military action Wednesday night.
The former president spoke about America’s enemies during the crisis, saying: ‘Now they laugh at us. That’s why you have Ukraine, that’s why you’re going to have China. Taiwan is next, and you’re going to see the same kind of thing.’
Trump then again said that Vladimir Putin was ‘smart,’ as he had during interviews given on Tuesday.
‘He’s taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions, I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country – a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people – just walking right in. This never would have happened and I know him very well.
Former President Donald Trump (onstage, center), speaking at a super PAC fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, spoke off the cuff about the impending military action Wednesday night
Trump again criticized President Joe Biden for his actions ahead of the crisis
Trump then again said that Vladimir Putin was ‘smart,’ as he had during interviews given on Tuesday
Trump on Tuesday praised Putin’s move to declare the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine ‘independent.’
‘I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, “This is genius,”‘ Trump said. ‘Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine – of Ukraine – Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.’
‘I said, “How smart is that?'” the former U.S. president continued. ‘And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force… We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right.’
‘No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy,’ Trump went on. ‘I know him very well. Very, very, very well. Had I been in office, not even thinkable, this never would have happened.’
Trump added: ‘But here’s a guy that says, you know, “I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent,” he used the word ‘independent’ and ‘we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace.’ You gotta say that’s pretty savvy. And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response. They didn’t have one for that. No, it’s very sad. Very sad.’
Trump also called Biden ‘a man who has no concept of what he’s doing.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki hit back at Trump at Tuesday’s press briefing.
‘As a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy, which I believe is what happened there,’ Psaki replied at the Tuesday briefing when asked to react to the comments Trump made earlier in the day.
She pointed to comments Trump reportedly made to G7 leaders in 2018, when the now former president said that Crimea, which was annexed by Russia after a 2014 invasion, was a part of Russia because everyone there spoke Russian.
And said that Trump had ‘expressed an openness’ to lifting sanctions on Russia for the 2014 invasion.
‘So there’s a bit of a different tactic, a bit of a different approach, and that’s probably why President Biden and not his predecessor was able to rally the world and the global community in taking steps against Russia’s aggression,’ Psaki said.
Most Republicans have said they want to see Russia punished for what the White House is now calling an ‘invasion’ of Ukraine – after Putin announced Monday he would consider two Russia-backed separatist territories independent from Ukraine, and ordered troops there under the guise of ‘peacekeeping functions.’
When asked if there were concerns comments like Trump’s could lead to support of Ukraine becoming a more partisan issue among the American public, she pointed a finger at the Republican Party.
‘You know, I think that is up to members of the Republican Party to make the decision, to make the determination,’ she told DailyMail.com.
In a departure from the traditional hawk and dove roles of the two political parties – with Republicans historically more hawkish – Republicans were less inclined to want the U.S. to play a major role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict by 10 points
‘There has been a long history, decades of history, which President Biden was a part of when he was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, of standing up to the efforts of any country to seize the territory of another country, standing up for efforts by the United States to rally global support against inappropriate and illegal actions by another country,’ she continued. ‘There’s a long history of that not in a partisan way – in a partisan way.’
‘And certainly that choice is up to Republicans to … determine,’ she added.
A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll that was released Wednesday showed that Americans had little appetite for the U.S. to play a major role in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
But in a departure from the traditional hawk and dove roles of the two political parties – with Republicans historically more hawkish – Republicans were less inclined to want the U.S. to play a major role by 10 points.
The survey found that overall 26 per cent of American adults said they wanted the U.S. to play a major role – with 32 per cent of Democrats in that group and 22 per cent of Republicans.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced he was sanctioning the company building Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Germany halted certification of Tuesday – a coordinated response to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
‘Today, I have directed my administration to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers,’ the president said in a statement. ‘These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.’
The president also warned, ‘we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate.’
The State Department’s spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday afternoon that Nord Stream 2 was ‘an $11 billion prize investment that is now a hunk of steel, sitting at the bottom of the sea.’
At her Wednesday briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki wouldn’t say if the project could be resurrected in the future.
‘Well, not only did the chancellor of Germany announce it’s not moving forward, we also announced additional sanctions and it’s not moving forward right now, no,’ she said to a question posed by NBC’s Peter Alexander.
When he asked if it was done ‘in perpetuity,’ she answered, ‘It’s currently dead at the bottom of the sea Peter.’
President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced he was sanctioning the company building Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Germany halted certification of Tuesday
Nord Stream 2 was completed in September and would have doubled the amount of Russian gas going into Germany
When White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked at Wednesday’s briefing if Nord Stream 2 was done ‘in perpetuity,’ she answered, ‘It’s currently dead at the bottom of the sea’
Biden received rare praise from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for his initial step of rescinding sanction waivers