On July 23, 2015, the Guardian in London reported that Putin's approval ratings were at record high levels, with 9 out 10 Russians approving of their president in a poll that highlighted support for Putin's strategy of invading Crimea and Ukraine.22 On July 30, 2015, while he was attending the British Open, Trump said at a press conference that he would have no problem working with Putin. "I think I would get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so. People say, 'What do you mean?' I think I would get along well with him," Trump, wearing a red "Make America Great Again" cap, told a reporter. "He [Putin] hates Obama, Obama hates him. We have unbelievably bad relationships. Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. She was the worst Secretary of State in the history of our country. The world blew apart during her reign. Now she wants to be president."23
Throughout 2015 and 2016, the New York Times fanned the flames, building Trump's initial controversial remarks into a theory Trump and Putin were working behind the scenes in a secret conspiracy to defeat Hillary Clinton.