One of the delightful aspects of James Austin Johnson’s impersonation of Donald Trump is how he captures the former president’s habit of blurting out his scheme as a casual aside in the middle of his stream-of-consciousness harangues. (Johnson: “Trump cards are each $99. Seems like a lot, seems like a scam, and in many ways it is, but we love the Trump cards.”)
A recent example of this habit from the real-life Trump came the other day during a Sean Hannity radio “interview.” Hannity, who has previously tried unsuccessfully to get Trump to call Vladimir Putin a bad guy, asked the former president about Ukraine. Trump’s main line on the subject has been to blame the invasion on Joe Biden and insist it never would have happened if he still held the office because Putin respected him.
But then he mentioned, as an aside, that the reason Putin wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine is that Trump would have made a deal to hand over chunks of its territory to Russia:
[Putin] would have never done it. That’s without even negotiating a deal. I could have negotiated. At worst, I could’ve made a deal to take over something, there are certain areas that are Russian-speaking areas, frankly, but you could’ve worked a deal.
Well, yes, the charge that Trump would have let Russia dismember its neighboring country is exactly the suspicion his critics have been raising for years. And indeed, when Trump has been insisting he could have prevented Putin’s invasion, his critics have noted that his magic negotiating formula is simply a willingness to agree with Russia on pressuring Ukraine to submit to demands it would never accept.
As Justin Baragona, the Daily Beast media reporter who reported on this interview, points out, Hannity played portions of his Trump interview on his Fox News show that night, but stops the remarks where Trump says he “could have negotiated” to omit the extremely newsworthy detail where Trump says exactly what the “negotiation” would have entailed.