“I honestly had little to no good expectations for this,” said a senior Trump political appointee who works on issues surrounding Russian disinformation efforts, adding that the event “went about as well as I expected.”

“Trump looked incredibly weak up there. Putin looks like a champion,” the official continued. “I’d like to say I’m shocked, but this is the world in which we live now.”…

“It’s the [fear] that it’s perceived as looking like he really didn’t win,” the official said of what was driving Trump’s behavior.

“If anyone expected Trump to stop being Trump precisely for those few hours of meeting with Putin, this was a wishful thinking by far,” Sergei Utkin, head of strategic assessment at the Moscow-based Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told The Daily Beast in an email.