Donald Trump Is Pretending to Be Subservient to Putin, Fox News Guest Says

Fox News host Pete Hegseth has suggested that former President Donald Trump's praise of Vladimir Putin is part of a strategy to "troll" the media.

Hegseth appeared as a guest on the channel's Jesse Watters Primetime on Tuesday, to discuss Trump's description of the Russian president as "savvy" and "genius" for his tactics in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

The Fox News segment started with a collage of clips from MSNBC, NBC and CNN outlining concerns about Trump's relationship with Putin and claims that the former U.S. president had colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

Watters said Putin had seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 when Barack Obama was president and "they're invading again now that Biden's in the White House."

Watters went on: "Wasn't Joe Biden supposed to be the adult in the room? Biden spent a month doing everything he could to stop Putin from invading, and Putin invades anyway."

He suggested that in Trump, "the media has found the true bad guy in all of this."

The anchor then aired other clips in which guests said Trump had a cosy relationship with Putin that had weakened Ukraine and emboldened the Russian leader.

Watters introduced Hegseth, a co-host on Fox & Friends Weekend, who said: "Under the weakness of Obama and Biden, Vladimir Putin took advantage."

Hegseth added that Putin in fact "saw a peer in Donald Trump who is unpredictable and willing to defend American interests, and he backed away from that.

"Vladimir Putin lives rent free in the minds of the American media," said Hegseth. "No entity has done more to spread Russian propaganda and to prop up the straw man that is Vladimir Putin than our very own media.

"Donald Trump was happy to troll them on it as he continues to do to this moment because they can't resist it."

Trump's "genius" comment had come earlier on Tuesday during an interview on the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton radio show. "Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine—of Ukraine—Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful," Trump said.

Trump also claimed that his relationship with Putin was why the Russian president chose to invade now rather than he was in the Oval Office.

During Trump's tenure, however, Moscow was fueling the conflict in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region where Russian troops entered this week.

In addition, the former president's first impeachment, in 2019, was related to his attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.

Newsweek has contacted Trump's office for comment.

Trump and Putin
Donald Trump speaks to Vladimir Putin at the APEC leaders' summit in Danang, Vietnam, on November 11, 2017. Trump is "trolling" the media over its coverage of the Ukraine crisis, according to Pete Hegseth. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Getty