Donald Trump sat down with his BFF Vladimir Putin today in Helsinki, Finland for his first formal one-on-one summit with the Russian president. The two leaders were reportedly joined only by translators and there were no other aides present.
After their first formal one-on-one summit, Trump and Putin gave a joint press conference and it’s been called “the most disgraceful performance by an American president” to date.
CNN’s John King called it the “surrender summit.”
A reporter asked Trump point-blank who he believed—Putin or the U.S. intelligence community—about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and asked if Trump would denounce Russia’s actions. Trump took the opportunity to blame the U.S., attack the FBI, and compliment Putin.
Here it is.
Trump is asked whether he believes the overwhelming conclusion of the US government or whether he believes Putin.
He then criticizes the FBI and goes on tirade about DNC servers, but says not a critical word of Putin. pic.twitter.com/vu0Zlf1Uz5
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) July 16, 2018
“I have president Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be,” President Trump said. “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” It was a stunning rebuke to his own intelligence agencies while standing on foreign soil beside one of America’s greatest adversaries, and one that’s attacked the United States before and continues attacks to this day.
Yep, that’s the president taking the word of a brutal dictator and enemy of America over the GOP Director of National Intelligence that he appointed. There’s no indication Coats is even considering stepping down.
Trump also claimed Putin made an “incredible offer” to allow U.S. investigators to make an official request that Russia investigate those Russian officials who have been indicted by Mueller’s team, provided the U.S. will investigate what Russia alleges are similar actions on the U.S. side.
“He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer,” Trump said.
Trump also took the opportunity to revisit his election and attack… Hillary Clinton and Democrats again. “We won that race,” Trump said, referencing his victory over Hillary Clinton. “It’s a shame there could be a cloud over it. People know that. People understand it. The main thing – we discussed this also – is zero collusion. It has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world.”
Putin responded to questions about whether Russia had compromising information on Trump, not by denying them, but by deflecting. Putin also, for the first time, admitted that he wanted Trump to win the election, something Trump and his allies have long denied.
Trump’s cowardly performance had the national security community aghast, and some people are even using the “t-word”:
Former CIA Director John Brennan accused President Trump of treason:
Even Republicans—including Fox News—were disgusted with Trump’s appeasement of Putin.
Of course others, like GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, were more than happy to run interference for Trump:
Rep. Issa: For the president to cast doubt on the intelligence community is not unreasonable. The timing of Mueller’s indictment was curious. pic.twitter.com/jVmB1tgps9
— Axios (@axios) July 16, 2018
It’s easy to forget with so much focus on Trump and his outrageous weakening of the United States on the world stage, but Congressional Republicans are equally to blame. Mitch McConnell famously refused to alert the American people about Russian cyberattacks and went so far as to threaten Obama with false accusations of partisanship if he brought the attacks to light:
At least Trump didn’t sell out America for nothing, Putin gifted the Republican president with a soccer ball to comemorate the U.S. hosting the next World Cup after Russia just hosted the latest on Sunday.
These are dark days for our country and for freedom and democracy across the globe.