“I think he should’ve said, ‘We’ve had this discussion, the evidence is in and don’t ever do this again or there will be consequences for Russia,’ ” Gates said. “I think he very much should have raised it with him.”
Trump announced Monday that he would once again meet with Putin at the upcoming G-20 conference in Japan in late June. The Russian media had reported the meeting a day earlier, claiming Trump had requested it—which is frankly completely plausible and yet another example of Russia owning the media war with the Trump administration. Surely, the meeting will give Trump another chance to suck up to Putin and chat about his re-election bid while completely ignoring Russia's 2016, 2018, and upcoming attacks on America's elections.
Gates declined to speculate on Trump's motivations for having such a "peculiar relationship with Putin" but noted that most of Trump's advisers had a slightly more clear-eyed view of Putin. "The interesting thing is everybody around the president actually has a much more realistic view of the Russians, and that includes up on the Hill,” Gates said.
He also recommended returning the favor by creating some problems for Putin at home by informing the Russian people about "the magnitude of corruption of Putin.”
“I think we can create more problems for him—we have the capabilities to do that,” Gates said.
What's amazing is that this is perhaps the first time we've heard from anyone suggesting a way to return fire on Russia outside of sanctions. Putin has basically robbed Russia blind. Injecting that truth into his homeland would cause real problems for him.