Chris Christie says Trump thinks Putin is 'just like him' and will 'behave' if he's 'complimented enthusiastically enough'

·3 min read
vladimir putin donald trump
US President Donald Trump (R) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) on the first day of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019.Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Chris Christie writes in his new memoir that Trump believed Putin was "just like him."

  • Trump thought that "if he complimented Putin enthusiastically enough," Putin "would behave."

  • As president, Trump frequently lavished praise on Putin but secured few deliverables for the US.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie writes in his new memoir that former President Donald Trump believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is "just like him."

Trump thought "that if he complimented Putin enthusiastically enough, the Russian president would behave," Christie writes in "Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden."

But Trump turned out to be wrong: his flattery of Putin "never ceased and neither did Putin's ruthlessness," Christie writes.

Trump lavished praise on Putin during the 2016 campaign and throughout his presidency, and he was sharply criticized for not doing enough to hold Putin to account for his human-rights abuses and autocratic behavior.

Among other things, Trump divulged classified information to two Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting and suggested Russia should be admitted back into the G7 after being kicked out following its seizure of Crimea. In perhaps the most striking example, Trump drew harsh backlash for suggesting after a bilateral summit in 2018 that he trusted Putin more than US intelligence agencies.

Christie also criticized other US presidents for failing to stand up to Putin. Former President George W. Bush famously said after meeting Putin in 2001 that he found the Russian leader to be "very straightforward and trustworthy." And former President Barack Obama went into his second term seeking a "Russian reset" that never came to fruition.

In the years since Putin, a former KGB officer, ascended to power in Russia, his government has cracked down on dissidents, curbed religious freedom, and held sham elections that were marred by fraud.

US intelligence agencies also concluded that he ordered an elaborate and multifaceted effort to intervene in the 2016 election to propel Trump to the Oval Office.

Russia's meddling in the election — and Trump's failure to condemn it — became a theme of the Trump presidency. The FBI investigated whether the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow during the 2016 election and ultimately concluded that although no one associated with the campaign broke any laws, the campaign welcomed Russia's interference and expected to benefit from it.

In his memoir, Christie leveled harsh criticism on President Joe Biden for his policy vis-a-vis Russia.

So far, Biden "seems to think that rhetoric is the way to tame the bully in the Kremlin," Christie writes. "But where's the action against Russia?" He added that the US should freeze the assets of Putin and Russian oligarchs.

"Direct, personal action against Putin and his friends, that's something they will understand," Christie said.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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