Inside Story

What do Trump and Putin want from each other?

Controversy continues to swirl around the US president, his aides, and the administration’s relationship with Russia.

Questions about US President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia surfaced almost as soon as he announced his presidential campaign. Six months into his administration’s term, they have never really gone away.

A major reason for that is the way in which both Trump and the people around him have often changed their stories regarding contacts with Russia.

As a candidate, Donald Trump once claimed to have a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, only to later say he had never met him. Just this week it emerged that at the recent G20 Summit Trump spoke with Putin for an hour, according to witnesses (Trump claims the meeting was much shorter) without any other US official present, meaning that Washington has no official record of what they discussed.

Trump’s one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort has long-standing business ties to both Russia and Ukraine, though he has often played these down in interviews.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia after it emerged that he had held two previously undisclosed meetings with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

Donald Trump Jr claimed the campaign had not been in contact with Russians until he released emails showing this was not true. Trump’s son-in-law, and now senior adviser, Jared Kushner, attended the meeting described in Trump Jr’s emails, and later had to revise his security clearance forms to reflect this.

Looming over it all is a deceptively simple double question: what does President Trump want from his relationship with Russia? And what does Russia want from Trump?

Presenter: Hazem Sika


Mica Mosbacher – 2016 Trump Surrogate and former Finance Co-Chair for the Republican National Committee

Sergei Markov – Director of the Institute for Political Studies, Moscow

Melanie Sloan – Attorney, Founding Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington