'Treachery'—Donald Trump Faces Backlash for Asking Vladimir Putin a Favor

Donald Trump has been widely criticized for calling on Vladimir Putin to release any information he has about Hunter Biden's alleged business dealings in Russia while the Russian president is carrying out attacks on Ukraine.

In an interview on Real America's Voice show Just the News, Trump pushed unsubstantiated claims regarding President Joe Biden's son, and his dealings in Russia.

The former president repeated an accusation that Hunter Biden's company received $3.5 million from Elena Baturina, the widow of former mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov, a claim he often made during the 2020 election campaign.

"Why did the mayor of Moscow's wife give the Bidens—both of them—three and half million dollars? That's a lot of money," Trump said.

"She gave him three and half million dollars. So now I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it. I think we should know that answer."

Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London's Centre on U.S. Politics, told Newsweek that by appealing for Putin to "smear" Hunter Biden, Trump is doing "what Trump does best" by "trolling the media, cozying up to authoritarians," and timing his comments for "maximum shock value."

This is also not the first time that Trump has asked Russia for help getting political dirt against one of his opponents.

In 2016, Trump called on Russia to try to find 30,000 emails associated with his then election rival Hillary Clinton, which were deleted during her time as Secretary as State.

Trump was impeached for the first time over allegations he threatened to withhold military aid from Ukraine unless President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings ahead of the 2020 election. Trump denied pressuring the Ukrainian leader in several media reports published around the time.

Trump has now been condemned for asking Putin to help unearth information on Hunter Biden amid the war in Ukraine, where Russia is accused of committing war crimes by purposely targeting civilians and hospitals.

Author, journalist and attorney Seth Abramson wrote: "President Biden is America's commander-in-chief; we're at the brink of open war with Russia; Putin is unambiguously an enemy of America.

"So one would expect any info Putin releases about our commander-in-chief to be a lie—and yet Trump now begs for Putin's aid. Open treachery."

Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, tweeted: "Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and a butcher. Here are two responses—President Biden: This man cannot remain in power.

"Trump: Please help me Vladimir. I am damn proud of our current President. And nauseated by the former President."

Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison added: "Trump, the leader of the GOP, loves Putin more than he loves America. It has been evident for a while that the man seriously needs some professional help."

Richard Painter, attorney and former chief White House ethics lawyer under the George W. Bush administration, described Trump as a "sleazeball" and a "traitor" over his comments.

Filmmaker Andy Ostroy said: "This traitor is seeking personal gain right now from a brutal enemy of America who's literally slaughtering innocent men, women, pregnant women, children and babies and decimating cities. Lock...his...a**...up."

Trump's latest remarks also arrived after he praised Putin as a "genius" and "savvy" for his tactics gearing up to the all out invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Trump later doubled down on his remarks, telling a crowd at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that the Russian president Putin was "pretty smart" as he had "taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions."

Speaking to Newsweek, Gift added: "As the rest of the world looks on at Russia's aggression in horror, Trump, in typical Trumpian fashion, sees a golden opportunity to keep his name in the headlines—and it's working.

"His recent comments calling Putin a 'genius' and 'savvy' garnered plenty of media attention, so it's hard not to think this is just him going back for seconds.

"Consider: As Joe Biden expresses his moral indignation over Putin—admitting he personally wants Russia's leader ousted from power and labeling him a 'war criminal'—Trump is content to solicit support from the same adversary. The contrasts couldn't be sharper."

Trump has been contacted for comment.

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Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrive to attend a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images