CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday interviewed Simon Sebag Montefiore, a historian who has written extensively about Russia, about President Donald Trump’s seeming infatuation with Russian President Vladmir Putin.
When asked by Zakaria why Trump has seemingly verbally attacked every major country in the world except Russia, Montefiore explained that Trump envies that kind of power and prestige that Putin and past Russian leaders have enjoyed as heads of state.
“Donald Trump wants to be the first American czar,” he explained. “He wants to be the American Romanov — he rules by decree, very small circle, he treats ministers like personal servants, he promotes his family to positions of power, they’re the only people he really trusts. So in this sense, he really is the first American czar.”
Montefiore said that there are checks and balances that have so far kept Trump from behaving wholly like a dictator, but he argued that we should still be alarmed by his ambitions and his admiration for Putin.
“He looks at Vladimir Putin and he sees a man who… has control of violence, who can order interventions into foreign countries at the click of a hand,” he explained. “I think that is a slightly boyish crush on the idea of the gangster boss.”
Watch the full interview below.