This Monday, in Finland, U.S. President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was the first one-on-one meeting between the two world leaders since Trump took office — and it did not go well.
After years of the Russia investigation and confirmation from sources ranging from the intelligence community to the U.S. Congress that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections, at a press conference after their meeting, Trump stood before the world and when asked, said:
‘President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.’
Former FBI Director James Comey is among those to have now responded to the incendiary Monday comments from Trump.
On Twitter, he wrote:
‘This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country. Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president.’
Comey’s description of the situation in Helinski is not off point.
At one point, Trump told members of the press:
‘I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin is extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.’
How is the strength of Putin’s denial of Russia having meddled — and continuing to meddle — in the U.S. political system relevant to the question of whether the meddling is real? It’s not. Trump is inventing a question where there is not one so that he can score some points with Putin. Struggling to count any global policy shifts among the successes of his administration, he’s desperate and continues to ignore the decades — and centuries — of global development that he’s trampling.
It was just last week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted twelve Russian intelligence officers for crimes related to their work hacking into Democratic Party related computer systems.
Before that, the U.S. intelligence community and multiple interests in Congress issued confirmations of Russia having meddled in the U.S. electoral system.
Even the House Intelligence Committee, which performed somewhat of an intellectual trapeze act to get around serious scrutiny of the president’s team’s connection to Russia, acknowledged that there was Russian meddling.
Yet, Trump still stood in Helinski this Monday and played into Putin’s hands with a suggestion the whole scandal could be baseless anyway.
Late Monday, a U.S. Ambassador who chose to remain anonymous told CNN’s Elise Labott:
‘Putin is very happy tonight but we are all in shock.’
Comey and the unnamed ambassador are far from the only individuals to disparage what Trump did in Helinski.
Arizona’s Republican U.S. Senator John McCain called Trump’s behavior “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
‘The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivete, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helinski was a tragic mistake.’
— Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) July 16, 2018
In the lead-up to the summit, McCain had suggested it be cancelled unless Trump planned on confronting Putin about Russian election meddling.
Well, the meddling was a topic of conversation — and we all see how that went.
Twitter’s response is below.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot