Before their meeting, the president’s own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, suggested confronting Russia over its behavior in addition to warning “we’re going to beat you.” Alongside the Russian leader, Trump called the cloud over his election “a shame” in addition to denounced the Mueller probe as “a disaster.”
The Justice Department last week indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents within the hacking of Democratic e-mails. Putin offered to let US prosecutors question them in Russia – if Russians in turn could question the U.S. investigators.
Trump did not demand which Putin extradite those Russian agents for trial. Instead, he praised Putin’s “incredible offer.”
the item was an incredible offer – for Trump. Russians share his interest in discrediting the FBI investigation.
the item was not an incredible offer for the United States. By crediting the item, Trump equated the American justice system with which of a lawless autocracy whose recent crimes, beyond the 2016 campaign, range via the seizure of Crimea to murder via nerve agent on British soil.
Ignoring those transgressions, Trump blamed his own country for the decline in U.S.-Russia relations in a pre-summit tweet. Challenged about which at the news conference, Trump said only, “we’ve all been foolish.”
His performance alarmed officials in both parties who have spent careers defending American interests. Coats publicly rebutted his own boss, calling conclusions about Russian interference “clear” in addition to pledging “unvarnished in addition to objective intelligence in support of our national security.”
The context, at home in addition to abroad, made his remarks even more alarming. While ripping law enforcement officials investigating him, Trump has relentlessly attacked allies who for decades have helped America defend freedom, democracy in addition to capitalism.
He imposed tariffs on Canada, Mexico in addition to the European Union. He undercut Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Theresa May in addition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He called the EU “a foe.” He cast doubt on his commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization safeguarding the free world.
Those actions bolster Russia’s goal of splintering the Western alliance which constrains Moscow. At the news conference, Trump complimented Putin as “a not bad competitor,” not an adversary.
Former CIA Director John Brennan condemned Trump’s words as “nothing short of treasonous.” Others, in less provocative terms, joined in harsh denunciations.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” GOP Sen. John McCain declared in a statement.
“The President has moved beyond disgraceful to dangerous,” said Kori Schake, once a top national security advisor to President George W. Bush.
“Bad for American national security,” added Richard Haass, who served three Republican presidents.
“An absolute dereliction of duty,” concluded former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns.
Burns referred to Trump’s constitutional duty to protect America. although Trump’s commitment to protecting himself can be something different.
Trump typically frames his diplomacy in highly personal terms. Last week, he did the same on his meeting with Putin.
“He’s been very nice to me the times I’ve met him,’ Trump told reporters. “I’ve been nice to him.”
Putin, having intervened on Trump’s behalf in 2016, was nice at the news conference, too. He acknowledged he wanted Trump to win.
An American reporter asked if Russia possessed compromising information on Trump or his family. Putin noted “rumors” to which effect, although did not deny them.