Trump says Putin ‘was a friend of mine’ in bizarre phone chat with golfer John Daly

‘I got along great with him,’ the former US president added

Nathan Place
New York
Monday 07 March 2022 14:16 GMT
Trump calls Russia’s against Ukraine a ‘holocaust’ but won’t condemn Putin

Donald Trump was recorded describing Vladimir Putin as his “friend” in a bizarre phone conversation with pro golfer John Daly.

“You know, he was a friend of mine,” the former president told the athlete on speaker phone, as recorded in a viral video. “I got along great with him.”

Mr Daly is a Republican and staunch supporter of Mr Trump. As the ex-president spoke to the golfer, Mr Trump repeated a claim that he’s made frequently in recent weeks: that if he were still president, Russia’s leader wouldn’t dare invade Ukraine.

“I’d say, ‘Vladimir, if you do it, we’re hitting Moscow,’” the one-term president bragged to Mr Daly. “I said, ‘We’re gonna hit Moscow.’ And he sort of believed me, like five per cent, 10 per cent. That’s all you need. He never did it during my time, John.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now in its third week. The United Nations has estimated that at least 227 Ukrainian civilians have been killed, and more than 1.2 million have fled the country. On Sunday, reports emerged that Russian soldiers were either intentionally or accidentally firing on evacuees.

As the invasion has progressed, Mr Trump’s comments on Russia have swung wildly from glowing admiration to harsh condemnation, and sometimes back again. In late February, he called the war “genius,” and Mr Putin as “smart,” “savvy” and “brilliant”.

“I mean, he’s taking over a country for two dollars’ worth of sanctions,” he said on 23 February. “I’d say that’s pretty smart.”

But in a speech to Republican donors on Saturday in New Orleans, Mr Trump struck a different tone.

“Are all of these nations going to stand by and watch perhaps millions of people be slaughtered as the onslaught continues?” he demanded, according to CBS News. “At what point do countries say, ‘No, we can’t take this massive crime against humanity?’ We can’t let it happen. We can’t let it continue to happen.”

During his presidency, Mr Trump repeatedly praised Mr Putin, sided with him against his own intelligence agencies at a public press conference, and held up a military aid package to Ukraine while demanding a public investigation of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

“Nobody has ever been tougher on Russia than me,” Mr Trump said on Saturday.

In the same speech, the former president said the US should put Chinese flags on its fighter jets and “bomb the s*** out of Russia”.

“And then we say, China did it, we didn’t do it, China did it, and then they start fighting with each other and we sit back and watch,” Mr Trump told the crowd, according to a transcript from The Washington Post.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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