Standing next to Vladimir Putin, after a meeting Putin had requested, President Trump was asked by a reporter if he believed the findings of his own intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election. He began by floating unfounded accusations that the FBI had ignored his opponent’s misdeeds. Then he proceeded to express his doubts. “All I can do is ask the question,” said Trump. “My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I’ll say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Trump told the world he trusts the denial of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin — the very man who did the deed! — over his own government’s intelligence. Trump can’t think of a reason why Putin would have interfered in the election. The fact that Russia has interfered in multiple elections, the fact its propaganda arm had broadcast its preference for Trump, the fact American intelligence concluded Russia intervened, that Robert Mueller has produced multiple indictments detailing evidence of this interference, all mean less to him than Putin’s say-so. Putin admitted at this press conference he wanted Trump to win.
My recent story argues that we have underestimated the possibility that the Russia scandal is much worse than it looks, that the depth and extent of the president’s covert ties to Russia might run deeper and longer than many people expect. Even for those of us harboring serious suspicions about this, Trump’s performance in Helsinki was stunning. I expected some artifice, some superficial gestures of Trumpian independence, perhaps some finger-wagging for show at Russia’s naughty behavior, and assurances it would not recur. What transpired instead was far worse, and far more blatant. Trump is engaged in an act of open betrayal against his own country.
What can you even say at this point?
How pathetic! Republicans who tell us how much they believe in "freedom" and "national security" are now caving in to a president who sides with former KGB leader Putin, rather than our own intelligence community. https://t.co/em0X64j0Lq
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 16, 2018
I deplore this rank McCarthyism! Of course, I favor a full investigation into Hillary Clinton’s under-investigated email server, which sure seems like the real security risk here.
We like to be fair and balanced here at LGM, though, so here’s a counterpoint:
Yes, I can’t think of a single unusual thing about an American president meeting with a Russian/Soviet leader, for more than 2 hours, in private with no notes, after attacking traditional American allies, and then denying overwhelming evidence of Russian ratfucking based on literally nothing but the Russian/Soviet leader’s word. Nothing. Pretty much every president did this, really. And plainly anyone who finds anything objectionable about Trump’s conduct just opposes summits with hostile foreign leaders in principle.
When dealing with the Either Paul > Webb > Trump > Clinton “left,” the “dumb” vs. “bad faith” question always presents itself. In Tracey’s case, I think he really is this dumb.
I can't get over the fact that Putin pulled an "OJ wants to find the real killer" on Trump and Trump ENTHUSIASTICALLY PRAISED THE SUGGESTION https://t.co/BGRBa61I6S
— Dara Lind (@DLind) July 16, 2018