Hypocrisy at its finest: Chuck Schumer shared doughnuts with Vladimir Putin in 2003

July 20, 2018

“In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an adversary the way President [Donald] Trump has supported President [Vladimir] Putin.” 

Those were the words of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) after last week’s summit between the two presidents in Helsinki, but there may be some holes in Schumer’s allegations — doughnut holes, that is. While Schumer had the audacity to accuse Trump of “support[ing] an adversary” in Putin, the Senate Minority Leader himself buddied up with the Russian president in 2003; they were even photographed sharing Krispy Kreme doughnuts inside a newly opened Russian gas station in Manhattan.

Coffee and doughnuts

During his first term in the Senate, Schumer welcomed Putin to his home state to inaugurate the first of a series of Russian-owned gas stations in the U.S. after Russian energy giant Lukoil bought out the American-owned Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. in 2000. Schumer celebrated the acquisition of more than 1,300 American stores with Putin over coffee and donuts inside the Soviet-red Lukoil-owned gas station on 10th Avenue and 24th Street in Chelsea.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Schumer described the intrusion of Russian interests into the U.S. petroleum industry as a boon for the American economy, noting“The more competition there is in oil, especially against OPEC – the better New York will do, and the better America will do.”

But Schumer knew exactly what he was doing when he allowed the shady energy firm to operate in his own backyard. He justified his newfound relationship with Moscow by characterizing the Russian takeover as a blow against OPEC, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Lukoil had acquired much of their product from Iran, Egypt, and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

When a reporter pointed out that Lukoil was inflating local gas prices by charging more than their competitors, Schumer responded: “The prices aren’t going to come down in a day.” But they didn’t come down in over a decade, either.

In 2012, at least 50 American franchisees with a stake in Lukoil-owned gas stations raised prices to over $8 per gallon to protest the prohibitive wholesale prices that Lukoil required them to shell out. American vendors paid up to 20 cents more than their competitors for gas, enriching Russian oligarchs while losing around 50 percent of their customer base, which forced many stations to permanently shut their doors.

Appeasing Russia

Besides pleasing Putin and hurting small business owners in America, Schumer once again declared his sympathy for the Kremlin in a 2008 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. As part of a deal to pressure the Iranian regime, Schumer wrote that “we must treat Russia as an equal partner when it comes to policy in the Caspian Sea region, recognizing Russia’s traditional role in the region.”

Of course, Moscow and Tehran have only deepened their ties since then, while Russia has used the Caspian Sea as a naval base from which to strike targets in Syria and aid in their takeover of Crimea and Ukraine. Still, Schumer had the gall before then to demand that “we must offer to make Russia whole” by offering Moscow “$2 billion to $3 billion a year” to buy their cooperation against Iran.

While Democratic senator may now despise American overtures to Russia, he didn’t shy away back then. He even wrote in the Journal that the U.S. “should tell Mr. Putin we will cease building the ineffective antinuclear missile defense sites in Eastern Europe in return for him joining the boycott [against Iran].”

Picture perfect

The sympathy Schumer feels toward Putin is a prime example of the stunning hypocrisy of Democratic lawmakers, who have turned the Helsinki molehill into an insurmountable political mountain for the Trump administration. Working in concert with their familiar allies in the mainstream media, Democrats tried to turn diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Russia upside down by effectively demanding that Trump condemn his negotiating partner for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Forget about nuclear nonproliferation; never mind ending the bloodshed in Syria. In a press conference following the summit, Dems like Schumer zeroed in on election meddling — a comparatively minor act that America itself has attempted against foreign governments at least 81 times since 1946. 

“For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, American intelligence agencies is thoughtless,” Schumer said. “It’s dangerous. It’s weak. The president is putting himself over our country.”

Schumer also offered up a radical conspiracy theory to explain Trump’s statements at the joint press conference: that “President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.” But if that’s the case, what “damaging information” compelled Schumer to meet with the Russian president and former KGB officer in 2003?

Schumer was clearly willing to sacrifice both global security and America’s petroleum industry to win minor concessions from the Russian leader. When he suggested that Trump was a puppet of the Kremlin, he must have forgotten about that doughnut-eating-grin he once shared with Mr. Vladimir Putin.

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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.