Donald Trump "fawned" over Russian President Vladimir Putin in their first phone call together and apologized profusely for not calling him sooner, a new report claims.
The call, which took place after Putin was accused of leading Russia in a campaign to interfere in America's 2016 presidential election, has become part of a series of private conversations between Trump and world leaders that are troubling White House insiders, claims a new report from the Washington Post.
The report noted that some top aides have been "genuinely horrified" at Trump's behavior and apparently off-the-cuff promises to these world leaders, including another to Saudi leadership that was accused of engineering the murder of American resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
"He pledged to Saudi officials in another call that he would help the monarchy enter the elite Group of Seven, an alliance of the world's leading democratic economies," the report noted.
These phone calls have come under greater scrutiny after a whistleblower complaint claimed that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and Biden's son, Hunter. Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine and exerted pressure on incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the business dealings of Hunter Biden, falling back on what is considered an unfounded claim that he was involved in corruption.
Trump's conversations with Vladimir Putin have long stirred controversy, especially the measures that Trump has taken to keep the subject of these conversations private. Reports indicated that Trump went so far as to destroy notes taken by a translator and has refused to brief even top administration officials on what was discussed.
In public, Trump has often deferred to Putin and backed the Russian president's claim that his country did not interfere in the 2016 election, despite the consensus from the U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did and that Putin had ordered the campaign in order to help Trump to get elected.
Putin this week even joked about once again meddling in the 2020 presidential election, CNN reported. Putin was asked during a panel discussion whether Russia might interfere again in 2020, and he answered that they would.
"I'll tell you a secret: Yes, we'll definitely do it," Putin said. "Just don't tell anyone," the Russian president added in a mock whisper.