“The president thinks he can be friends with Putin,” former national security adviser H.R. McMaster complained during his time in the White House, according to U.S. officials. “I don’t know why, or why he would want to be.”…

Some White House officials worry that Putin, who has held several calls with Trump, plays on the president’s inexperience and lack of detailed knowledge about issues while stoking Trump’s grievances.

The Russian president complains to Trump about “fake news” and laments that the U.S. foreign policy establishment — the “deep state,” in Putin’s words — is conspiring against them, the first senior U.S. official said.

“It’s not us,” Putin has told Trump, the official summarized. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”