Philip Bump writes: On Sunday night, The Washington Post reported that President Trump’s private business was actively pursuing a real estate deal in Russia in late 2015, only to abandon it shortly before the 2016 presidential primaries. The revelation adds a new layer of context to Trump’s repeated insistence over the past year that he has no business ties to the country, suggesting that his avowed indifference toward making money in Russia was a function less of resolve than of circumstance.
Broadly, Trump’s attitude toward business in Russia mirrors his behavior when it comes to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Before he was a political candidate, Trump repeatedly said that he had a relationship with the Russian president. (Among the examples he cited as evidence he knew Putin? They were both on the same episode of “60 Minutes” — though Trump was filmed in the United States and Putin in Russia.) After that relationship became politically inconvenient, his tune changed sharply. In the third presidential debate, he preemptively responded to a question about Russian interference in the election by saying, “I don’t know Putin.”
As we did with Trump’s claims about knowing Putin, in light of the most recent Post reporting, it’s worth reviewing Trump’s long history of seeking a business deal in Russia — and his change in tune once such a deal would no longer be personally helpful. [Continue reading…]