Hagel to next president: We need to sit down with Putin

Hagel to next president: We need to sit down with Putin
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Former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelSwalwell says he will convene a bipartisan 'blended cabinet' if elected president Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan For planet and country: National security's climate moment MORE had a bit of advice for the next president: be prepared to work with Russia. 

"One of the first orders of business for the next president, in my opinion, is that we need to sit down with [President] Vladimir Putin," Hagel said at a media roundtable at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday. 

"And that may be distasteful, but we know enough about President Putin that he deals with leader-to-leader," he said.

Moscow has been under stiff economic pressure since the annexation of Crimea, but that hasn't stopped Putin from increasing interference in Syria's civil war.

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"And Russia has immense internal problems; we know that; we understand that. And they are not going to be able to sustain what's going on now," Hagel added. "But in the meantime, there's a lot of damage being done here to our interests, to the world's interests, and until that leader-to-leader dialogue begins — 'what do you need, what do we need, and let's start sorting this out,' — then you will continue a proxy war, what we are essentially seeing in the Middle East in Syria today, and I'm not sure where that takes any of us." 

Hagel declined to endorse a presidential candidate, saying he would leave that up to the American people.

However, Hagel's recommendation would fall more in line with presumptive GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE's campaign rhetoric of getting along with Putin.

At a recent rally, Trump bragged about the Russian leader calling him a "genius" and predicting he'd be the next leader of the U.S. 

"Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia?" Trump said at a Saurday rally in Spokane, Wash.

Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDavis: The shocking fact that Mueller never would have accused Trump of a crime Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE has called Putin a bully and praised President Obama for standing up to him.

"We’ve had some very tough dealings with one another. And I know that he’s someone that you have to continually stand up to because, like many bullies, he is somebody who will take as much as he possibly can unless you do,” she said at the fourth Democratic debate in January.