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Donald Trump Pals Beg Him to Stop Kissing Vladimir Putin’s Ass During Russian Invasion of Ukraine

ORLANDO, Florida—At the dawn of Russia’s new invasion of Ukraine this week, Donald Trump appeared to be on a Russian roadshow, telling whoever would listen about the wonder of President Vladimir Putin’s ability to take over the country next door on a whim.

But as Russia continues to attack Ukraine, several advisers and associates have practically begged the former president to end his effusive-sounding praise of Putin. Trump’s warm words for the Russian leader, who the ex-president regularly brags about knowing “very well,” has startled even some of Trump’s onetime lieutenants who were already conditioned to mask their disgust with the 45th U.S. president’s actions.

“I was stunned to hear that,” Dan Coats, who previously served as then-President Trump’s director of national intelligence, told The Daily Beast on Thursday night. “I cannot think of any other U.S. president that would in a situation like this say what he said.”

Over the past few days, as reports of preparations and execution of the bloody invasion grew increasingly dire, Trump—who was famously impeached for pressuring the Ukrainian government to use bogus dirt to investigate the Biden family—couldn’t resist the urge to regurgitate his anti-democratic “Big Lie,” nor could he stop himself from repeatedly flattering the Russian leader in multiple venues.

It got to the point that by Thursday afternoon, several longtime associates who had spoken to Trump since Tuesday told him that he might want to avoid lavishing too much praise on Putin, and perhaps refrain from complimenting the Russian president’s intellect so much, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. At least one adviser recently mentioned to Trump that it would be more advantageous to simply stick to calling Biden feckless and bumbling.

Neither of them had high hopes that the ex-president would take the advice.

On Tuesday, The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show posted an interview with former President Trump in which he falsely claimed the 2020 U.S. presidential election was “rigged” against him, lauded Putin’s Ukraine strategy as “genius,” and suggested that the U.S. government should deploy similar tactics to clamp down on immigration at our southern border.

Similarly, on Wednesday evening, the night Putin’s military operation commenced, the twice-impeached former president delivered remarks at a fundraising event at his private Florida club Mar-a-Lago, where he said, “I mean, he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart.” Trump made sure to allege that Putin would not be doing this on President Trump’s watch, a counterfactual claim made laughable by the Trump administration’s actual record.

For months, Republican Party operatives, candidates, their staff, and lawmakers had anticipated a golden opportunity to merely drag Biden as “weak” and “Jimmy Carter 2.0” amid a Russian invasion that would coincide with an American election year. But the party’s standard-bearer’s rambling analysis made many of his confidants and major allies wish he’d “keep his mouth shut about” it and keep it to himself, a person close to Trump said.

However, Trump ride-or-die Rudy Giuliani, who helped trigger Trump’s first impeachment by spearheading the Ukraine pressure campaign on Trump’s behalf, seemed to be on the same page, telling told Newsmax Thursday he believed the Biden administration was in over its head and that Putin “played this almost like a symphony conductor.”

“He kind of stretched it out to make Biden look more and more foolish,” Giuliani said. “They have a president, we don’t.”

But among the conservative grassroots and within the movement’s media and political elite, they mostly stuck to blaming Biden and his “weakness” for plunging the world into chaos.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-CA), the third-ranking House Republican who serves on the Armed Services Committee, claimed Biden’s inaction—despite his spate of sanctions on Russian oligarchs and repeated urges by conservatives to not get involved in war—led to Thursday’s invasion. The message was echoed by Republican Reps. Scott Perry (PA), Brian Mast (FL), and Madison Cawthorn (NC).

“We are witnessing Joe Biden’s policy of war through weakness,” Stefanik wrote in a Twitter statement. “For the past year, our adversaries around the world have been assessing and measuring Joe Biden’s leadership on the world stage, and he has abysmally failed on every metric.”

Even at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, a place that quickly morphed into a MAGA festival over the course of Trump’s presidency, the speakers and attendees were more focused on dragging Biden than marveling at Russia’s might—and most hardly mentioned the rapidly escalating conflict at all.

Former Trump deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland made the conference’s first mention of Russia’s invasion about 45 minutes into the first day. She declared Russia’s actions “a full-scale invasion of an independent nation,” while managing to pin the blame on the “feckless” Biden administration.

“They are unable to stop what Vladimir Putin is doing,” McFarland said. “He plans to affect this administration where he can now do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, with Ukraine.”

The Biden bashing remained an undercurrent throughout other Thursday CPAC panels, with some speakers like Turning Point USA executive director Charlie Kirk arguing the real invasion Americans should care about is at the U.S.-Mexico border, not in Europe.

“The U.S. southern border matters a lot more than the Ukrainian border,” Kirk said during his speech. “I’m more worried about how the cartels are deliberately trying to infiltrate our country than a dispute 5,000 miles away in cities we can’t pronounce in places most American citizens can’t find on a map… We are being invaded!”

Local attendees agreed. Kathryn Lehr, a Boulder, Colorado, resident donning a “Free Boulder” hat, who claimed she was at the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, attacked Democrats’ halting of Trump’s plans to build a border wall and falsely claimed Biden invited illegal immigrants to enter “as though this is his fucking country to invite millions of people in illegally.”

“What’s one reason not to secure the Southern border?” said Lehr, who put her age in the 50s. “I’ve never heard a good reason from a Democrat why the southern border should not be secured.”

Some potential White House hopefuls, however, took different approaches to the invasion on Thursday.

In a 20-minute midday slot at the annual conservative summit, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—widely considered the top contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, if Trump ends up not running—hit every conservative buzzword to thunderous applause, railing against “the Brandon administration” over its handling of COVID-19, immigration, and his relationship with Florida.

Ukraine was not mentioned even once.

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