Donald Trump faced criticism for evading support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, leading Chris Christie to label him as “Putin’s puppet.”
During a CNN town hall, host Kaitlan Collins repeatedly pressed Trump to express his backing for Ukraine, but he skillfully avoided directly answering the question.
Trump’s refusal drew sharp condemnation, with Christie accusing him of being under Putin’s influence.
Trump emphasized his focus on seeking a resolution to stop the violence and restore stability in the region, rather than emphasizing a desire for Ukraine to “win” the conflict.
“I want everyone to stop dying. They are dying, Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying,” he replied.
Trump restated his unfounded claim that he could quickly resolve the conflict if he returned to the Oval Office, asserting, “I can accomplish it within 24 hours; the authority of the presidency is crucial for that.”
He also highlighted the importance of increased financial contributions from Europe and called for equitable distribution of resources. Furthermore, Trump boasted that the conflict would never have happened if he had stayed in power.
“If I were president this never would have happened and even the Democrats recognize that. Putin knew it would never have happened and his pipeline would never have happened, a lot of things would never have happened,” he said.
Trump claimed that had he stayed in office, the devastating loss of lives and destruction of cities on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides could have been prevented.
Furthermore, he sought to portray his relationship with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “very good.” However, it is important to note that Trump was impeached for a phone call in which he attempted to use military aid to Ukraine as leverage for a probe into Joe Biden.
“I have a perfect relationship with President Zelensky because as you know he backed me up with phony impeachment hoax number one when he said the president did nothing wrong. I was totally exonerated, by the way, a total waste of time and money,” said Mr Trump. Collins reminded viewers that the former president had been impeached by Congress.
When questioned by Collins about his previous claim of having “tremendous respect” for Vladimir Putin, Trump acknowledged Putin’s intelligence but criticized his decision-making.
According to Trump, “He made a tremendous mistake. He is an intelligent guy… They want you to say he is a stupid person, but he is not foolish. He is very smart and cunning, and Putin made a bad mistake in my opinion. His mistake was going in. If I were president, he would never have taken that step. We used to discuss it too.”
However, when asked directly if he believed Putin should be considered a war criminal for the invasion of Ukraine, Trump avoided giving a clear response.