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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Don and Vlad, a love story

by digby

This piece by Michael Crowley in Politico about Trump's Miss Universe pageant in Russia in 2013 is a must read. Trump apparently used the pageant to make contacts for some possible real estate deals (or, more likely, some brand licensing deals) and had a great desire to meet Vladimir Putin on whom he clearly has a major crush. He got involved with some oligarchs, one of whom has a son who sees himself as a popstar and ... just read it.

An excerpt:

But as the big event neared, Trump seemed particularly excited about his proximity to Putin — even as the Russian’s image in the U.S. was growing more nefarious. Two weeks after Trump revealed his pageant was headed to Moscow, Putin signed a harsh new law that banned pro-gay “propaganda” and criminalized public expressions of gay pride. Around the same time, Edward Snowden landed in Moscow, fleeing U.S. authorities after leaking some of America’s most sensitive intelligence secrets.

Although Trump suggested that Snowden should be executed — “you know what we used to do to traitors, right?” he asked a Fox News host last July — the anti-gay law cast the darker shadow over the pageant. The event’s openly gay host, actor Andy Cohen, backed out, saying he “didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.” More than 30,000 people signed a Change.org petition urging that the pageant pull out of Moscow. One person who spoke to Trump at the time told POLITICO that he advised the mogul to relocate the pageant, but Trump wasn’t interested.

Trump argued that the "many [gay] people" who work for the pageant urged him to carry on, saying that while he didn't like the anti-gay law, “we can go over there and maybe make a difference.” He even found another openly gay host in MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts.

Whether Trump also considered Putin’s potential reaction isn’t known. But he clearly sought the Russian president’s favor. A few weeks before departing for Moscow, Trump made clear he still hoped to see the Russian leader at his November 9 gala.

“I know for a fact that he wants very much to come, but we’ll have to see. We haven’t heard yet, but we have invited him,” Trump told an interviewer that October.

Snowden, not so much. “Message to Edward Snowden, you’re banned from [Miss Universe]. Unless you want me to take you back home to face justice!” Trump tweeted.

Hours before the pageant, Trump tweeted that he'd just been given a tour of Moscow: "fantastic, hard-working people. CITY IS REALLY ENERGIZED."

Trump arrived that evening on a red carpet, delighting onlookers with trademark declarations of “You’re fired!” before posing for photos with the Agalarovs. A Moscow Times reporter noted that Trump “had to dodge some uncomfortable questions” about whether Emin, who performed at the event in a lineup that included bigger acts like Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, had earned his place on merit.

Putin never showed up although Trump likes to hint that he's met with him secretly. He's head over heels:

As for Putin, Trump isn't saying whether he met with the Russian leader. But he does claim some understanding of how the Russians he met around the Miss Universe pageant feel about their president.

Putin “has a tremendous popularity in Russia," Trump told Fox News last July. "They love what he’s doing. They love what he represents.”

So does Trump.