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Axios' Mike Allen (left) and retired Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. Photo: Axios

Retired Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, President Trump's former national security adviser, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is "determined to drag us all down like the KGB operator he is" through political subversion and disinformation.

What he's saying: "He's quite adept at it. He's one of the best liars in the world, deceivers in the world. ... Let's just stop being chumps about this. Right?"

  • "Russia is operating under the theory that he (Putin) can maybe be the last man standing because he'll be successful, in his view, at shaking confidence within our democratic societies in Europe and in the United States, in particular.

The big picture: McMaster, who has a new book out, "Battlegrounds," said all presidents, not just Trump, get Putin wrong in trying to foster a relationship, but "it's not going to get better," he said.

  • "The reason it's not is the ideology and emotion that drives (Putin). He is driven by a sense of honor lost, associated with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the loss of the Cold War, and then also this drive to restore Russia to national greatness, as I mentioned."

Watch the event.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 26, 2021 - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies.

The state of play: Biden also raised arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to a White House readout. The statement said Biden and Putin agreed maintain "consistent communication," and that Biden stressed the U.S. would "act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies."

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

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