Speed Reads


Maureen Dowd recalls the moment Donald Trump became a fan of Russia, in 1987

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd first met Donald Trump in the 1980s, when they had coffee on the sidelines of the 1988 Republican National Convention, she told Seth Meyers on Monday's Late Night. But she also spoke with Trump by phone in 1987, before he met Mikhail Gorbachev during the Soviet leader's first visit to the United States. Before the meeting, Trump told Dowd that he was wary and suspicious of Gorbachev, but after Gorbachev told Trump he loved Trump Tower and wanted one in Moscow, she said, Trump was effusive in his praise for Russia and its leader at the time.

"I think that set a template for what's happened with Putin and the Russians ever since," Dowd said. "Trump thought Putin gave him a compliment where he said he's brilliant, but it turned out to be a mistranslation." Putin really called him "colorful" or "gaudy," she explained. "So Trump has forced the Republicans to change their whole stance toward the Evil Empire based on a mistranslation."

Meyers asked about Dowd's reporting that Trump is susceptible to the last person he speaks with on a subject. "That's why his staff jockeys to get the last appointment of the day, because the last person who talks to him has a lot of sway," she said. "And, you know, he over-flatters people, and he likes to be over-flattered, because basically, he doesn't — his ideology is his ego. So, you know, everybody in Washington, from President Obama to Mitch McConnell, is trying to flatter him. He's basically like a host body, and they think they can change his mind or pour their agenda in with some flattery, and that worked with Putin." Watch below. Peter Weber