Call it the Surrender Summit.
President Trump stood beside Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and actually blamed America for Russian attacks on our country. (You could also call this the Blame America First summit.)
A gullible U.S. president swallowed Putin’s denial of any Russian role.
The president betrayed every American with his craven performance in Finland. He made his top advisers look foolish, He trashed his own intelligence community and Justice Department, to the delight of Putin.
It is long past time for any GOP leader who cares about U.S. security to call Trump out.
The president made clear to the press that he trusted Putin’s denials of Russian cyber espionage over the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies. This despite the pre-summit warnings of his own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who warned on Friday of Moscow’s continuing efforts to harm U.S. institutions.
Yet Trump had only praise for the ex-KGB colonel. When a journalist asked if Trump thought of Putin as an “adversary,” Trump interjected, “I call him a competitor,” then stressed that word was meant as a compliment.
It was a fitting end to a European tour in which Trump repeatedly bashed our closest NATO allies but refused to confront Russia’s aggression. His astounding eagerness to be gulled made clear how easy it will be for Putin to fool him in the future – unless GOP leaders finally confront a president who is selling this country out.
Even the Russians were astonished at the gifts Trump bestowed on Putin gratis. Just before the Helsinki summit, Tatyana Parkhalina, a prominent Russian foreign affairs official, gushed on state TV: “I never thought I’d live to see this.” She said neither the Soviet Union or Russia had ever succeeded in splitting the NATO allies, “but [Trump] himself is doing everything to break down the foundations of transatlantic unity.”
In Helsinki, a normal U.S. leader would have taken a firm stand with Putin on Russian meddling. Indeed, Robert Mueller did the president a favor when he indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officials last week. That provided Trump with reams of concrete evidence to counter Putin’s denials. Coats cautioned that the “warning lights are blinking red” about future Russian cyber threats. More evidence in hand.
Yet Trump rejected the advice of U.S. officials. When asked whom he believed, U.S. intelligence or Putin’s denials, he responded: “Putin just said, ‘It’s not Russia.’ I don’t see any reason why it would be. President Putin was very strong in his denials.” .
Let’s get this straight. The American president was endorsing Putin’s lies over the findings of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. In other words, the U.S. president effectively gave Putin the green light for future espionage. Make Russia Great Again.
Trump’s remarks got even more shameful as the news conference continued. When asked whether he held Russia accountable for anything, he responded, “I hold both countries responsible. The United States has been foolish. The [Mueller] probe is a disaster for our country.” Shades of Trump’s claim after the alt-right violence in Charlottesville that the neo-Nazis were as “nice” as those they attacked.
Trump then veered into a rant about Hillary Clinton and Democratic email servers, a theme he repeated each time he was questioned about Russian meddling. It was a cringe-worthy performance on the world stage. Simply put, Trump could not put the good of his country above his partisan interests. He refused to put America First.
>> READ MORE: Why Putin hated Hillary and loved Trump | Trudy Rubin
Yet the president sank even lower. He actually promoted Putin’s laugh-worthy proposal that Moscow and the administration work together to resolve the issue of who really meddled in the 2016 election.
Putin told the media he would “look into” Mueller’s 12 indictments of Russian military intelligence officers, and refer the issue to a commission. That’s like asking the thief to investigate his burglary.
Then the Russian leader suggested that Mueller could interview the Russian officers if Moscow could in return question U.S. intelligence officers. Trump called it “an incredible offer.” One can only imagine the reaction in the CIA to Trump’s eagerness to let Russian spies grill the U.S. officials who unmasked their crimes.
Can the man who fancies himself the world’s best deal-maker really be this gullible? This foolish? Back in the Kremlin, they must be breaking out the champagne.
The Russian leader also hinted broadly that “some [U.S.] intelligence officers” were falsely concocting the charges against Moscow. This is just the kind of conspiracy theory that Trump loves, and has himself been promoting (in Helsinki he couldn’t resist a swipe at FBI agent Peter Strzok, as if that overhyped case erased the reality of Russian aggression).
Trump’s surrender summit should be sending shivers through his top advisers, who are far more savvy about Russia. That includes National Security Adviser John Bolton who said a year ago that Russian meddling was an “act of war” against America.
The president’s pusillanimous pursuit of Putin proves he will swallow Putin’s lies in the future about Syria, about Ukraine and Crimea, or about nuclear weapons. Or about anything else a savvy KGB colonel can wrap in sufficient flattery. The only good news is that there were no deals announced on any of these issues in Helsinki (although god knows what the president pledged in the one-on-one session).
It remains to be seen whether Bolton et al., or GOP senators, will finally have the spine to rein in a president who endangers this country. If they don’t they are as treasonous as Trump.