The real motivation, reports NBC’s sources, is that Trump “sees a summit as an opportunity to be presidential” and “wants to show his deal-maker abilities.”
That’s right, kids. President Dealz is back, and his big idea for maybe penning a deal with someone is to call in a sympathetic world strongman. The guy who keeps botching treaties with even close U.S. allies—and who was turned into a laughingstock by a North Korean dictator who gave Trump absolutely nothing, in exchange for Trump’s feting of their dictatorship on the world stage—is going back to where he began, arranging for do-nothing meetings to announce do-nothing deals with “strong” authoritarian leaders.
It was either that or show a bare minimum level of competence in dealing with a national pandemic. But Trump got bored with the pandemic, so “deals” it is.
What isn’t clear, in addition to the nebulous-sounding plans for what to actually discuss, is whether Putin will go along with his subordinate’s election-eve plan. The Russian leader has generally treated Trump with not-particularly-veiled contempt; he seems content to use Trump’s relentless incompetence as means of discrediting the United States, and has shown little interest in Trump’s various self-promotional schemes.
If Trump wanted to showcase his alleged dealmaking capabilities after four years of spectacularly failing to sign any non-terrible international deals whatsoever, he might want to start off by mending relationships with, say, Canada? Baby steps, fella. Baby steps.