The White House announced before the Asian summit that Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin would not meet. Then that they would. Then that they might. Then they did—about seven times. In fact, they seemed inseparable, with Trump heading for Putin every time he wasn’t required to line up for a photo.

And the result of all their sideline chatter was a definitive statement that … Vladimir’s feelings had been hurt by investigations into Russia’s interference with the US election.


Trump added that he thinks Putin “is very insulted by” the scandal – if there’s one thing the American president should be concerned about, it’s Vladimir Putin’s feelings – and that “people will die” as a result of the controversy.


Actually, it’s quite possible that people already have died over Putin’s scheme to boost Donald. It’s hard to tell whether Trump’s statement represents a concern or a threat. But what’s easier to understand is that the biggest focus now is delivering on the payoff for the work Putin did during the campaign.


“People don’t realize, Russia has been very, very heavily sanctioned,” Trump added. “They were sanctioned at a very high level. And that took place very recently. It’s now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken.”


Maybe Trump’s worry that “people will die” because of the investigation—is actually a concern over someone very, very close to him.

Whether it’s painting, plumbing, or cabinet making, Donald Trump has a well-deserved reputation for either underpaying his subcontractors or weaseling out of deals altogether. But it appears that Trump is determined to mark his bill to Putin “paid,” quite possibly because if this tab doesn’t get covered Real Soon Now, there will be consequences.


President Donald Trump tore up his diplomatic script this weekend in favor of an angrier, more familiar role after his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an economic summit were limited to hallway conversations lasting little more than five minutes.


Understand that Trump wasn’t mad at Putin. Of course he wasn’t mad at Putin. What made Trump angry was that Putin wasn’t happy.


The combative commander in chief re-emerged Saturday and Sunday irked that his promised thaw with Russia has been slowed by parallel investigations into Moscow's 2016 election meddling. Yet his continued vacillations on whether Russia interfered in last year's election have only clouded the matter further, thwarting the type of substantive cooperation he's seeking.


In this case, Trump’s “promised thaw” means reducing sanctions.

So, let’s recap. Donald Trump had a number of short conversations with Vladimir Putin after which he said that “people will die” if he can’t get the investigation out of the way and “heal” things by dropping Russian sanctions. Which all seems—astonishingly clear.