President Donald Trump continues to prefer the company of Russian President Vladimir Putin to lasting respect of America’s democratic institutions. This past Friday at the White House, he freaked out on a reporter for asking about a phone conversation he had with Putin this Friday. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had previously refused to answer whether or not Trump had pressed Putin over Russian meddling in U.S. elections, and the reporter wanted some answers.
They asked Trump:
‘Did you discuss the election meddling issues that came up in the Mueller report with Mr. Putin today?’
The president replied:
‘He sort of smiled when he said something to the effect of it started out as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse, but he knew that, because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever. So pretty much that’s what it was.’
He faced further questioning though:
‘Did you tell him not to meddle, Mr. President?’
In short — no he did not. However, the president took a bit longer to get to the point of admitting that, sharing:
‘We had a good conversation about many different things… [But] we didn’t discuss that. Really, we didn’t discuss it.’
In the middle of that, he cut himself off to insist that a reporter was “very rude” for asking a follow-up question to the line of inquiry the president was at the time discussing.
Reporter: “Did you ask him (Putin) not to meddle in the next election?”
President Trump: “We didn’t discuss that” pic.twitter.com/LMlJqfuyU8
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 3, 2019
His emphatic declaration of a supposed moral high ground ignores two key points — he’s the president of the United States and failed to confront a foreign leader responsible for intrusions into electoral systems when given the chance, and he was taking his sweet time to answer the question.
It’s far from the first time that he’s made such a show; one of his perhaps most infamous targets is CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who he’s consistently and repeatedly derided with similar language. At one point, he called him a “rude, terrible person” at a nationally televised press conference, and his team stripped his press access to the White House grounds on a false accusation of having been inappropriately physically rough with an aide. Eventually, under court order, the White House let Acosta keep doing his job.
That’s hardly where this issue ends, however. Trump has consistently throughout his presidency refused to attempt to hold Putin accountable for his country’s behavior, even as the evidence of their election intrusions kept piling up. The news even recently emerged that the FBI has concluded Russian intelligence operations successfully gained access to the election computer systems of at least one Florida county government, and during the first interactions Trump had with the man behind all that following the emergence of the news, he found no apparent reason to bring it up.
There’s a still very potent possibility of Russia continuing their high-caliber efforts to influence U.S. elections heading into 2020. In a particularly testy exchange outside the White House, spokesman Hogan Gidley refused to even acknowledge the significance of the question of whether or not the Trump team would accept foreign help for their re-election effort. Presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani just recently sat on national television and claimed there’d be nothing wrong with doing exactly that.
Featured Image via screenshot