Does Putin have ‘hacker’s remorse’ about Trump?

Vladimir Putin

Most commentators hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin as a disruptive genius for cyber-attacking the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Putin made clear that he did so to get Donald Trump elected, presumably to do his bidding. 

But I warned that Putin was in for a rude awakening. Case in point is my column from April 12, 2017: 

Trump was bound to disappoint Putin – just as he was bound to disappoint the poor fools who thought he really would, or even could, get Mexico to pay for that wall. Which suggests that Putin is not nearly as smart as he’s reputed to be.

And the more Trump disappoints him, the more Putin will have to explain himself to all of the Russians he had drinking champagne toasts to Trump’s election. Not least because he had them convinced that Trump was his puppet who he could manipulate to lift crippling economic sanctions in short order. 

I cannot overstate this looming day of reckoning for their relationship. And nothing will characterize it quite like Putin unleashing the same leakers of secrets and peddlers of fake news to humiliate Trump and undermine his presidency who he unleashed to undermine Hillary and help elect Trump (i.e., the political execution of the proverb – live by the sword, die by the sword). 

Sure enough

From Reuters on June 13, 2019: “President Vladimir Putin said relations between Moscow and Washington were getting worse and worse, noting in an interview published on Thursday that the current U.S. administration had imposed dozens of sanctions on Russia. 

“U.S.-Russia ties remain strained by everything from Syria to Ukraine as well as allegations of Russian interference in U.S. politics, which Moscow denies…” 

Of course, Putin is frustrated because he has nothing to show for all his puppetry. I duly mocked his frustrations in this column dated July 31, 2017: 

Yet the media are making much ado about Trump and Putin holding another Helsinki-style summit in Osaka tomorrow. No doubt they’re relishing the prospect of Putin inducing Trump to humiliate himself even more. 

But I shall resist any temptation to pile on with another commentary…because its seems all they do in their “secret meetings” is stroke each other’s ego.

…No matter what they arrange behind closed doors, things invariably fall apart as soon as Trump faces political reality in Washington… and [I]t won’t be long before the bromance between Trump and Putin has its day of reckoning. Whatever the nature of their He-man courtship, that fateful day will come when Putin makes military incursions in Eastern Europe or the Baltic States, forcing NATO to react; when Putin realizes that his puppet strings are no match for congressional and judicial powers, which place checks and balances on presidential powers… 

(Putin) is betting he can get Trump to use those powers to ease the sanctions that are crippling Russia’s economy and cramping the lifestyles of Russian oligarchs who help him misappropriate and launder tens of billions. (Reports are that Russians are already showing signs of buyer’s remorse.)

Robert Mueller’s forthcoming testimony on July 17 will only compound Putin’s frustrations. It will give the legislative and judicial branches just cause to tie into even more knots the strings Putin thought he had on Trump’s executive powers.

Here’s to buyer’s (or is that hacker’s?) remorse.

Anthony L. Hall is a native of The Bahamas with an international law practice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at


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