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Vladimir Putin runs Russia like a Mafia boss, dividing up the stolen goods with his wealthy friends.

He has had political opponents murdered. On the international scene, Putin has undermined U.S. interests in Syria and North Korea, and he has invaded a neighboring country. Our KGB-trained comrade is a stone-cold enemy of all freedom-loving nations. When you factor in the now uncontested fact that Russian government operatives hacked into our 2016 elections, why is Donald Trump so in love with Putin?

At Helsinki, we watched as Trump glad-handed Putin and claimed, to an international audience, that Putin’s denial of interference was “extremely strong and powerful.” Why? Days before the summit, our own intelligence agencies were unanimously claiming the exact opposite.

I think it’s Trump’s ego at work here. He has claimed 43 times that his campaign had no collusion with Russian agents, despite much evidence to the contrary. Trump’s bloated ego will not tolerate the placement of an asterisk behind his presidency.

I believe Trump’s Helsinki summit, and the announced future White House meeting with Putin, are Trump’s desperate effort to reach back and rewrite history. He wants to make some kind of nebulous friendship pact with Russia. In his mind, there can be no crime of conspiracy, treason or collusion with a U.S. foe if he can engineer that pact.

It is not love of America, but fear of prosecution and his own deep insecurities that motivate Trump to pursue his questionable alliance with Putin.

Peter VanLaarhoven, Holmen

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