- Two US officials said Trump had "naively elevated" Russia "to almost parity with the United States."
- "He's playing with something he doesn't understand," one official said, "and he's giving them power that they would use [aggressively]."
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President Donald Trump seems desperate to win the approval of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, anonymous US officials told CNN , with one source describing calls between the leaders as "two guys in a steam bath."
Sources within the Trump administration said the president was "inordinately solicitous of Putin's admiration and seemingly seeking his approval," according to CNN's Carl Bernstein.
Two US officials said Trump had "naively elevated" Russia "to almost parity with the United States."
"He's playing with something he doesn't understand," one official said, "and he's giving them power that they would use [aggressively]."
In particular, the sources derided Trump's decision to withdraw most US troops from Syria that had been providing support to Kurdish militias fighting the Islamic State, a move that further increased Russian influence in the country.
Sources also told CNN that, in the calls with Putin, Trump "talked mostly about himself, frequently in over-the-top, self-aggrandizing terms," while berating his predecessors as "imbeciles" and "weaklings."
The Russian president "just outplays him," a senior Trump administration official said.
After the story was published, a White House spokesperson asserted that the president "is a world class negotiator," declining to address the substance of the piece.
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