Trump really needed to understand this little man who once was a KGB agent and likes to do stuff shirtless to show off his Photoshopped pecks. Trump needed to know Putin and how to deal with the guy who is alleged to have hacked into our presidential election last year and who he is accused of colluding with.
The meeting opened with Trump expressing "the concerns of Americans" about Russian interference, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained. He said the discussion was "robust and lengthy," like drinking a good cup of coffee slowly. Trump supposedly returned to the discussion of the Russian meddling several times, Tillerson emphasized.
And while we don't have Trump's exact words, US media immediately went after him for not referring to his concerns about intrusions. Chris Matthews went after him and Putin for spreading their legs out as far as the chairs would allow, and CNN's Jim Acosta said he wished that he never met Donald J. Trump. Ever!
The fact is, if Trump approached the subject of the election intrusion broadly, he did it exactly right. Everyone agrees that no foreign intervention in our election or other constitutional processes is acceptable.
So what did Trump come away with in their meeting?
He got to smell the borscht on Putin's breath and see him look straight into his eyes after he asked him about the hacking. And he got to see Putin lie to him with a straight face and scripted smile.
CNN saw the two men blink in Morse code at each other. "The collusion was palpable," one anonymous reporter said. "You could cut it with a sickle."
But here's a caveat (a word I rarely get to use): if anyone in the Trump administration believes for one second that Putin doesn't lie to us, believe it at your own peril.