President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg in July. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
Op-ed Editor/International

(The Kremlin announced on Friday that President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin may have a meeting on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam. Here’s a preview.)

“Hello, Donald. (Shaking hands.) So good to see you again.”

“Vladimir, what a pleasure. How’s my favorite president?”

“Not bad, Donald, not bad. And you?”

“Could be better, Vladimir. All this fake news — it wears on a guy.”

“I know what you mean. Or at least, I can imagine what you mean. No fake news in Russia, yes?”

(Hearty laughter on both sides.)

“But seriously, Vladimir, I really have to apologize. All this anti-Russia sentiment in my country — it’s crazy. A real witch hunt. Just remember, it’s not my fault. And it’s not the fault of the real Americans, meaning the ones who voted for me. They’re totally on board with Russia these days. They’re big fans, in fact.”

“No need to worry, Donald. Not taking it personally.”

“And before I forget — just wanted to thank you for calling me ‘brilliant.’ I’ve gotten so much mileage out of that.”

(Putin sighs.) “With all due respect, Donald, the word I used was ‘flamboyant.’ They translated it wrong.”

(Trump winks, chuckles.) “Sure, they did. But we both know what you meant, right?”

(Putin smiles wearily.)

“So, Vladimir, how’s life?”

“Not bad, Donald, not bad. Our economy could be better, of course. But if you’d just lift those sanctions …”

“Working on it, Vladimir. Gotta pass tax cuts first. Then the guys in my party will finally appreciate me the way they should. I’ll be able to do whatever I want. (Looks starry-eyed.) And imagine if we finally managed to kill off Obamacare?”

“Are you sure they won’t want to get rid of you then?”

(Trump sneers.) “Oh, come on. Really? Mitch McConnell? Are you serious? The guy couldn’t back-stab his way out of a paper bag. Which reminds me — just wanted to congratulate you on your latest hit. That woman in Ukraine? You guys sure know how to handle the terrorists.”

(Primly.) “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

(Laughs.) “Sure, sure. Just like all that help you didn’t give me last year.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. (Winks.) Of course, what can I do if some patriotically minded Russians decided to intervene on your behalf. We are a free country, after all.”

(More laughter.)

“But Donald, seriously, aren’t you worried that someone’s going to prove collusion between us? Even though, of course, nothing even remotely like that ever happened.”

“Collusion? What’s that? They can’t prove anything. When I asked you guys to hack Hillary’s emails, everybody knew that I was, well, only half-serious. I mean, is that collusion when you’re totally open about it?”

“Yes. That sounds — totally logical.”

“And this whole thing about Roger Stone knowing in advance that stuff was going to be released. So he had an inside line to you guys – uh, WikiLeaks, I mean. What does that have to do with me? It’s not me that he’s got tattooed on his back, is it?”

“Good point. (Putin clears his throat.) But Donald — aren’t you worried about the charges against Manafort? He worked for that has-been president of Ukraine — meaning, basically, for us. He knows where a lot of the bodies are buried. Metaphorically speaking, of course.”

“Manafort? Whatever happened, happened before he joined my campaign. And maybe a little bit during. But nothing significant. And he was only my campaign chairman, after all.”

(Putin maintains tactful silence.)

“But Vladimir, why dwell on the negative? Let’s look on the bright side. You gotta admit — isn’t it nice not hearing us lecture you about human rights all the time? I know how that used to get on your nerves. Now you can do whatever you want.”

(Putin laughs.) “But at least you know what to call them. ‘Enemies of the people.’ You speak like a true Russian!”

“Flattery will get you everywhere. By the way, I’ve been dying to ask — what’s your take on the whole Weinstein scandal?”

“Incredible. You Americans never cease to amaze me with your crazy political correctness. We Russians fixed that problem for good earlier this year. We passed a law, you know, allowing husbands to beat their wives — up to a certain point, at least. Problem solved!” (Both men chuckle.) “By the way, I wanted to compliment you on your new State Department spokeswoman. She’s almost as beautiful as ours.”

“That’s Fox News for you.”

“Though I have to say, I was a bit — disconcerted to hear her spouting that anti-Russian line a few weeks ago. Claiming that we messed with your election. She really hurt our feelings.”

“So sorry, Vladimir, so sorry. You should talk to Rex about that. I know you guys are really close.”

(Putin glowers.)We used to be.”

“Your Foreign Ministry lady is definitely hot, though. And I loved that thing she said the other day, claiming that Hillary met Osama bin Laden in the White House. Now that’s what I call information policy.”

(Putin brightens up again.) “You’re right about that, Donald. You’re right about that. Which reminds me — we both took care of Hillary, didn’t we?” (Fist bump, laughter.)

(Pause.) “Oh, Vladimir, so nice to spend time with a real man for a change. Good times, good times. (Points finger gun.) Am I right?”

(Putin flinches.) “Please don’t do that.”