Trump is ‘Putin’s No. 1 American apologist’ — and Republicans cheer him anyway: analysis
Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead.

Donald Trump's years-long support for Vladimir Putin is not yet causing a major split in the Republican Party, even as the issue has grown to the point of a war in Europe causing a major refugee crisis.

"For years, I’ve been hoping that some outrage would finally turn the Republican Party against Donald Trump, and for years, I’ve been bitterly disappointed," Max Boot wrote for The Washington Post. "Will the Republican Party finally come to its senses now that one of Trump’s favorite dictators is waging a cruel war of aggression against Ukraine? Hope springs eternal."

He noted recent comments by Mike Pence bashing "apologists for Putin" and a new ad by the Republican Accountability Project running on Fox News.

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"Even rank-and-file Republicans, who might be expected to listen to the siren song of Putin apologists such as Tucker Carlson, have turned hawkish on Russia. In one recent poll, only 4 percent of Republicans say Putin’s claims on Ukraine are justified, and only 6 percent have a positive view of Putin," he wrote. "So Republicans should be turning against Putin’s No. 1 American apologist, right? They should, but they likely won’t."

Trump has long since lashed out at anyone who has criticized his love for Putin, which was ridiculed again on "Saturday Night Live" once again over the weekend.

"Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!," Trump tweeted in July of 2018.

"When you hear the Fake News talking negatively about my meeting with President Putin, and all that I gave up, remember, I gave up NOTHING, we merely talked about future benefits for both countries. Also, we got along very well, which is a good thing, except for the Corrupt Media!" Trump complained again, less than a week later.

Less than 18 months later, Trump would be impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of justice for attempting to make aid to Ukraine dependent on political support going into the 2020 election.

"This is how a cult of personality works: Voters support a demagogue regardless of his policies, which can often shift," he wrote. "In fact, the Orange Emperor has been kowtowing to Putin for years — who can forget his simpering performance in Helsinki in 2018? — without impairing his GOP support. It’s not as though there was any secret before about how awful Putin was: Even before the latest invasion of Ukraine, the Russian dictator had already attacked that country in 2014, potentially committed war crimes in Syria, interfered in the United States’ 2016 election and jailed dissident Alexei Navalny, among other offenses. There has long been a vocal pro-Putin minority in MAGA land, but most Republicans were never big fans of Russia to begin with. They simply hate Democrats more."

He noted "I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat" T-shirts.

"In short, for most Republicans, partisanship trumps — pardon the word — any principle, even devotion to our democracy. Because most Republicans hate Democrats more than they hate Russia, Trump likely doesn’t have to worry that his Putinphilia will cost him a significant amount of support with his base no matter how many civilians Putin slaughters," Boot warned.

On "The View" on Tuesday, former Trump White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham discussed the former president's affection for Putin.

"He really admired Putin, and I saw that firsthand," Grisham said.

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