Donald Trump Quotes About Putin Show He Doesn’t Care What You Think About Their Relationship

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The big push from Democrats following the latest round of Mueller investigation indictments is for President Trump to call off the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But these Donald Trump quotes about Putin show he has spoken well of Putin for years — and nothing seems to be able to put the breaks on Trump working on building this "relationship," even the indictment of 12 people who work for the Russian government.

The indictment of 12 Russian agents shows that there is a governmental link to the attempts to hack Dems' emails and tech systems — as well as the voting systems in some states. These were not lone computer hackers but rather government employees from the GRU and other Russian military and government agencies.

Despite all that, Trump seems determined to stick with the plan to meet Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. Before leaving the U.S., Trump had said this part of his trip — which also included controversial stops at a NATO meeting in Brussels and a visit to the UK — would be the "easiest." Talking to reporters in D.C., Trump said, "Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all."

That kind of positive statement about Putin shouldn't surprise you. Trump's been saying things like that for years.

June 19, 2013: Tweeting To The Russian President

One of the first mentions of Putin by Trump comes around the time of the Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow. For years, Trump references that trip when asked about Putin.

Feb. 10, 2014: Trump Boasts About Putin Connection

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Trump spoke on his favorite morning show Fox and Friends:

When I went to Russia with the Miss Universe pageant, (Putin) contacted me and was so nice. I mean, the Russian people were so fantastic to us ... I’ll just say this, they are doing – they’re outsmarting us at many turns, as we all understand. I mean, their leaders are, whether you call them smarter or more cunning or whatever, but they’re outsmarting us. If you look at Syria or other places, they’re outsmarting us.

April 28, 2014: Praising Putin Over Obama

"Putin has shown the world what happens when America has weak leaders," Trump tweeted. "Peace Through Strength!"

Trump regularly compared Putin and Obama before the election, always praising the Russian leader.

July 22, 2014: Putin Has "A Long Way To Go"

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“I think I became much richer because I can understand people and read people and Putin is not finished. Putin has got a long way to go,” Trump said on the radio channel WTOP, in response to a question about what is happening in the Ukraine. "He wants to do lots of other things that in theory would not be allowed."

Sep. 28, 2015: On The Campaign Trail

After officially declaring his candidacy, Trump has nice things to say. "Putin is a nicer person than I am.”

June 3, 2015: "'Donald Trump Is A Genius'"

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Trump tried to paint himself during the campaign as in Putin's good graces. "Then Putin said, 'Donald Trump is a genius, he’s going to be the next great leader of the United States,'" Trump said at a rally in Redding, California. "No, no, think of it. They wanted me to disavow what he said. How dare you call me a genius. How dare you call me a genius, Vladimir. Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn’t that be good?"

Dec. 20, 2015: On The Killing Of Journalists In Russia

Trump doubted that Putin was involved in any killings of Russian journalists. Long before starting his own war on the "fake news" media, Trump told ABC's This Week:

As far as the reporters are concerned — as far as the reporters are concerned, obviously I don't want that to happen. I think it's terrible — horrible. But, in all fairness to Putin, you're saying he killed people. I haven't seen that. I don't know that he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the reporters that he's killed? Because I've been — you know, you've been hearing this, but I haven't seen the name. Now, I think it would be despicable if that took place, but I haven't' seen any evidence that he killed anybody in terms of reporters.

July 25, 2016: Back When This Was A "Joke"

Trump has tried to blow off the Russia investigation from the beginning. In 2016, Trump tweeted, "The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me."

The indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller show that wasn't a joke but the fact of the matter.

Sep. 7, 2016: NBC's 'Commander-in-Chief Forum'

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Another key moment in Trump's Putin quotes was the NBC Commander-in-Chief Forum hosted by Matt Lauer. Hillary Clinton and Trump didn't go up against each other, but had the same amount of time. Lauer was criticized for not holding the two candidates to the same standard.

"If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him. I've already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, 'Oh, isn't that a terrible thing' — the man has very strong control over a country,” Trump told Lauer. "Now, it's a very different system, and I don't happen to like the system. But certainly, in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”

Jan. 12, 2017: Trump Admits Russian Role In Hacks

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Trump was not quick to admit that Russia had made efforts to undermine the election. Finally at a news conference in January 2017 he admitted their role. "I think it was Russia," Trump said at Trump Tower, adding that Putin "should not be doing it."

Trump said that it wouldn't continue. "He won't be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I am leading it than when other people have led it," Trump said.

"If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS, which, by the way, is, number one, tricky. I mean if you look, this administration created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. The void was created, ISIS was formed."

Feb. 4, 2017: Trump Defends Putin

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In this interview, Trump stood up for Putin against his then Fox News champion Bill O'Reilly, who called Putin a killer. "There are a lot of killers,” Trump responded. “Do you think our country is so innocent? Do you think our country is so innocent?

July 13, 2017: Trump Claims Putin Wanted Clinton

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In an interview with Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump tried to stop the Russia election narrative. “We are the most powerful country in the world and we are getting more and more powerful because I’m a big military person," Trump told Robertson. "As an example, if Hillary had won, our military would be decimated."

So therefore Russia didn't help elect him, he argues. “That’s why I say, why would he want me? Because from day one I wanted a strong military, he doesn’t want to see that," Trump said.

July 13, 2017: Trump & Putin "Get Along Very Well"

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This is from the same Robertson interview. “Yeah, I think we get along very well and I think that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing," Trump told Robertson. "People said, ‘Oh they shouldn’t get along.’ Well, who are the people that are saying that? I think we get along very, very well. We are a tremendously powerful nuclear power, and so are they. It doesn’t make sense not to have some kind of a relationship."

Nov. 11, 2017: Trump Says Putin "Means It"

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Trump said that he believed the Russian leader, that he wasn't involved in the Russia hacks and election meddling.

"He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Mr. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”

March 21, 2018: The Celebratory Phone Call

Trump wasted no time congratulating Putin on his reelection, not mentioning the need for open elections.

He was criticized by the likes of Republican Sen. John McCain. "An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections” McCain said in a statement."

July 5, 2018: Trump's "Been Preparing"

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"They’re going 'will President Trump be prepared? You know, President Putin is KGB.' And this and that," Trump said in advance of the meeting in Helsinki. "You know what? Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life. They don’t say that."

July 12, 2017: "Maybe He'll Be A Friend"

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Before his trip, Trump was gushing about Putin. “I think we’ll get along well. But ultimately he’s a competitor. He’s representing Russia. I’m representing the United States. So in a sense we’re competitors, not a question of friend or enemy. He’s not my enemy,” Trump told reporters before leaving for the trip.

“Hopefully some day, maybe he’ll be a friend. It could happen but I don’t know him very well," he continued. He also said he didn't want Russia or Putin to be a threat. "I don’t want him to be, and that’s I guess why we have NATO."

Trump hasn't spoken about Putin in detail again since the indictments dropped. But it seems he's not going to try to push the Russian leader hard over what the Mueller investigation has found.

"I hadn’t thought of that. But I certainly, I’ll be asking about it. But again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration," Trump said in an interview airing Sunday on CBS News.

Given these past quotes, it's not a shock.