Show Hide image

This 2014 Donald Trump interview hints at a new kind of special relationship

In a conversation with Fox News, the now-President Elect said the US "should not be knocking" Russia. 

On occasion, Donald Trump has claimed he has had "nothing to do" with Russia. Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin was one of the first world leaders on the line to the President-elect, and Trump once urged Russia to hack his rival's emails on the campaign trail. The two men both seek to project a strong image, tap into nationalistic rhetoric and love a good photo shoot. 

Among the commentariat, reports of a potentially Russia-friendly administration are increasingly hard to avoid. Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times speculates what concessions Trump might make, while analysts tell The Independent Putin has been "emboldened" by Trump's victory. And last week Reuters' Andrew Osborn, who has covered the link between Trump and Russia in some depth, reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there had been "contacts" with members of Trump's team during the campaign.

But could Trump have plans for Russia which date back even further? Back in August, journalist Sarah Kendzior posted a link to a 2014 Fox News interview that gives an intriguing hint as to Trump's ideas for US-Russian collaboration. 

The segment, hosted on the Fox News website, begins with a discussion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - commonly known as Obamacare - which was to be introduced a month later.

In the clip, the future president says the Democrats have “found a really wonderful justification for themselves, and for elections, but not for the country, as it takes away the incentive to work".

Asked by his host if the measure is therefore "killing the American dream", Trump replies: “It’s a very different kind of American dream, where you don’t have to do anything and you can live very nicely.”

“A lot of people live better without having a job, than with having a job. I’ve had it where you have people and you want to hire them, but they can’t take the job for a period of nine months because they’re doing better now than they would with a job.”

So far, so predictable. His proposed solution, however, is more likely to raise eyebrows.

“You know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be, when we were great.”

The discussion then moves on to Russia and specifically the Russian Olympics. Fox introduces this segment with a clip of Mike McCaul, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, suggesting that the games are a security risk. "It's highly likely something will detonate", he says.

Trump's response, however, sidesteps security questions. Instead, he encourages Americans to praise the "good job" Russia has done in preparing for the games, and claims to have previously had friendly contact with Putin.

Well, Mike [McCaul] is a good Republican from Texas, and I hear a very good guy, but I think we should give the Russians a little bit of leeway here.

I mean, they spent billions and billions, a number that was beyond any number I’ve ever heard.

They spent all of this money, and I think we should not be knocking them at this point. And then we wonder why they don’t like us, and why they’re eating our lunch in every country that we’re dealing with against them.

I really think we should say, hey look, they’re really out there doing a good job. Every time I turn on the television we’re showing a guy knocking down a door because his door lock doesn’t work, we’re showing all of these things, and I’ll tell you something: if I’m Putin, I’m not happy with it. And I’ll tell you something, he’s not happy with it.

I was in Russia with the Miss Universe pageant. He contacted me and he was so nice. The Russian people were so fantastic to us.

And they’re outsmarting us at many turns, as we all understand. Their leaders are – whether you call them smarter, or more cunning, or whatever, but they’re outsmarting us if you look at Syria and other places.

I really think we should not be knocking that country.

It is a final, ambigious comment, however, that is most intriguing.

I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt, and then go on and win something important later on, because they’re not going to be so opposed to what we’re doing.

True, in the context of the Olympics, "win something" could simply refer to medals - but, following up on his mention of the Middle East, "[Russia is] not going to be so opposed to what we're doing" may whisper at something more.

Perhaps it's time to keep a look out for a new "special relationship"...

Stephanie Boland is head of digital at Prospect. She tweets at @stephanieboland.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Michael Carrick is the “Geordie Pirlo” that England misunderstood

The Manchester United legend’s retirement announcement should leave Three Lions fans wondering what if?

That it came in the months leading up to a World Cup arguably added an exclamation point to the announcement of Michael Carrick’s impending retirement. The Manchester United midfielder, who is expected to take up a coaching role with the club afterwards, will hang up his boots at the end of the season. And United boss Jose Mourinho’s keenness to keep Carrick at Old Trafford in some capacity only serves to emphasise how highly he rates the 36-year-old.

But Carrick’s curtain call in May will be caveated by one striking anomaly on an otherwise imperious CV: his international career. Although at club level Carrick has excelled – winning every top tier honour a player based in England possibly can – he looks set to retire with just 34 caps for his country, and just one of those was earned at a major tournament.

This, in part, is down to the quality of competition he has faced. Indeed, much of the conversation around England’s midfield in the early to mid-noughties centred on finding a system that could accommodate both box-to-box dynamos Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

As time went on, however, focus shifted towards trequartistas, advanced playmakers and those with more mobile, harrying playing styles. And the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli were brought into the frame more frequently than Carrick, whose deep-lying capabilities were not utilised to their full potential. That nearly 65 per cent of Carrick’s England caps have come in friendlies shows how undervalued he was. 

In fairness, Carrick does not embody similar characteristics to many of his England midfield contemporaries, including a laudable lack of ego. He is not blessed with lung-busting pace, nor is he enough of a ball-winner to shield a back four solo. Yet his passing and distribution satisfy world-class criteria, with a range only matched, as far as England internationals go, by his former United team-mate Paul Scholes, who was also misused when playing for his country.

Rather, the player Carrick resembles most isn’t English at all; it’s Andrea Pirlo, minus the free-kicks. When comparisons between the mild-mannered Geordie and Italian football’s coolest customer first emerged, they were dismissed in some quarters as hyperbole. Yet watching Carrick confirm his retirement plans this week, perfectly bearded and reflecting on a trophy-laden 12-year spell at one of world football’s grandest institutions, the parallels have become harder to deny.

Michael Carrick at a press event ahead of Manchester United's Champions League game this week. Photo: Getty.

Where other players would have been shown the door much sooner, both Pirlo and Carrick’s efficient style of play – built on patience, possession and precision – gifted them twilights as impressive as many others’ peaks. That at 36, Carrick is still playing for a team in the top two of the top division in English football, rather than in lower-league or moneyed foreign obscurity, speaks volumes. At the same age, Pirlo started for Juventus in the Champions League final of 2015.

It is ill health, not a decline in ability, which is finally bringing Carrick’s career to a close. After saying he “felt strange” during the second-half of United’s 4-1 win over Burton Albion earlier this season, he had a cardiac ablation procedure to treat an irregular heart rhythm. He has since been limited to just three more appearances this term, of which United won two. 

And just how key to United’s success Carrick has been since his £18m signing from Tottenham in 2006 cannot be overstated. He was United’s sole signing that summer, yielding only modest excitement, and there were some Red Devils fans displeased with then manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to assign Carrick the number 16 jersey previously worn by departed captain Roy Keane. Less than a year later, though, United won their first league title in four years. The following season, United won the league and Champions League double, with Carrick playing 49 times across all competitions.

Failing to regularly deploy Carrick in his favoured role – one that is nominally defensive in its position at the base of midfield, but also creative in providing through-balls to the players ahead – must be considered one of the most criminal oversights of successive England managers’ tenures. Unfortunately, Carrick’s heart condition means that current boss Gareth Southgate is unlikely to be able to make amends this summer.

By pressing space, rather than players, Carrick compensates for his lack of speed by marking passing channels and intercepting. He is forever watching the game around him and his unwillingness to commit passes prematurely and lose possession is as valuable an asset as when he does spot an opening.

Ultimately, while Carrick can have few regrets about his illustrious career, England fans and management alike can have plenty. Via West Ham, Spurs and United, the Wallsend-born émigré has earned his billing as one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation, but he’d never let on.

Rohan Banerjee is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman. He co-hosts the No Country For Brown Men podcast.