Trump Surrenders to Putin and Russia at Helsinki Summit

Trump Surrenders to Putin and Russia at Helsinki Summit

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held a special summit today in Helsinki, Finland dubbed by many the “Treason Summit.” The two spoke through interpreters but without the assistance of aids or advisors. While odd and ill-advised, the most stupefying element of the summit came during the culminating joint news conference. 

Donald Trump (left) and Vladimir Putin at the summit in Helsinki, Finland
Credit: BBC

Trump was asked whom he believes between his intelligence advisors and Putin, whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and Trump responded, “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.” Although being ‘powerful in denial’ is not an American colloquialism that makes any sense, Trump spat in the face of every member of the FBI, CIA, NSA, and every other agency involved with gathering intelligence to maintain the sovereignty of the United States. This capitulation to Putin’s blatant lies disgraces the fabric of freedom woven by years of sacrifice and fighting against Putin-like oppression. 

Later in the news conference, Trump contended, “My people came to me. [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and others, they said, they think its Russia. 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.” It’s tough to see with closed eyes. Trump hasn’t seen evidence of Russian interference because he is either unable or unwilling to read the reports presented by the intelligence community. As the White House occupant, Trump has access to more information than any human alive. But accessibility is irrelevant when it goes unutilized. 

Trump fears that if he were to admit that Putin authorized election meddling finally, it would somehow weaken the credibility of his election victory. Thus, Trump elects to side with a foreign enemy and denounce the veracity of the information his intelligence officials have provided him to preserve the farce. 

While disturbing and shameful, the remarks of Trump and Putin during the news conference were less dangerous than what was potentially said and agreed upon behind closed doors. Trump has shown his lack of tact and intellect when dealing with world leaders. Nothing about today’s news conference should lead the public to presume the closed-door meeting was any more focused or directed towards protecting the best interest of U.S. citizens.

As Trump acknowledged at the conference, “I hold both countries responsible.” As if the DNC is to blame for getting hacked or U.S. citizens are to blame for Russian bots inundating social media with false stories meant to evoke fear and hatred. Trump did not just blame the victim by blaming the DNC for Russian hacking – he encouraged Putin to persist. One can only assume that Trump’s disregard of Russian interference is a result of his pleasure with reaping the benefits of said interference, or worse, compromising information gathered by the Kremlin paralyzes Trump. His false equivocations of the brutal Russian regime with the pursuits of liberty by the U.S. is troubling. 

Trump’s anti-American rhetoric and behavior were so egregious that former CIA Director John Brennan posted the following in response to the joint news conference: 

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Russia attacked the democracy of the United States with the aim of diminishing the stability of the country’s democratic institutions. The intelligence community has remained unified in providing unequivocal evidence demonstrating the Kremlin’s interference into the 2016 presidential election. 

Contrary to Trump's consistent message since 2016, in a moment of genuineness, Putin admitted his true preference in the U.S. election.

REPORTER: Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?
PUTIN: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S. Russia relationship back to normal.

This response from Putin contradicted what Trump and his political allies in the Republican Party have stated for years. Trump constantly touted on the campaign trail that he was not Putin's preference because he would be 'tough on Russia.' Putin proved this propaganda could not be further from the truth.

Since Trump lacks the political wherewithal to pivot away from damaging questions, his method of avoiding a question about Putin’s involvement in the election by drawing attention to the age-old debate over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Rather than condemn Putin for meddling in the election, Trump asked, “What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? 33,000 emails gone, just gone. I’m thinking in Russia they don’t get lost.” This naive belief gives the impression that Secretary Clinton’s email server has any connection to the Russian interference. These are not the words of an individual who is prepared to defend the constitution against foreign enemies. 

Trump’s ridiculous attempt at misguiding the press was small and beneath the office of the presidency. But his intentional discrediting of the nation’s intelligence community was shameful and worthy of a Congressional censure. 

As the current occupant of the White House, Trump swore an oath of office, as every U.S. president is required. That oath demands the U.S. president to uphold and defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. Trump’s actions today made reasonable observers question where his allegiance lies and whether he is acting on behalf of an autocrat. Trump’s continued refusal to hold Putin accountable for attempting to dismantle U.S. stability should concern everyone. The fate of the country rests in the hands of a narcissistic, spiteful, anti-intellectual, political neophyte whose lone ambition appears to be isolation and destruction. 

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