Trump Sheds All Notions of How a President Should Conduct Himself Abroad.
By MARK LANDLER
11 hrs ago
WASHINGTON — President Trump made one thing clear after his meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday: He is willing to take Mr. Putin’s word over those of his own intelligence agencies about whether the Russians tried to fix the 2016 election.
Such an admission by a president sworn to be the principal defender of the Constitution and America’s sovereignty in the world is extraordinary enough. But it was only one of several statements made by Mr. Trump, the likes of which no other American president has ever uttered on foreign soil.
He condemned the Justice Department’s investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia as a “disaster for our country.” He suggested that the F.B.I. deliberately mishandled its investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee. And he labeled an F.B.I. agent who testified about that investigation before Congress as a “disgrace to our country.”
In the fiery, disruptive, rules-breaking arc of Mr. Trump’s statecraft, the president’s remarks in Helsinki on Monday marked an entirely new milestone, the foreign policy equivalent of Charlottesville.
Just as Mr. Trump flouted the most deeply held traditions of the American presidency in equating the torch-wielding marchers and the leftist activists who fought them in Virginia last summer, he shredded all conventional notions of how a president should conduct himself abroad. Rather than defend America against those who would threaten it, he attacked his own citizens and institutions while hailing the leader of a hostile power.
Mr. Trump’s goal, it seemed, was to fight, tooth and claw, for the legitimacy of his election victory. In the process, he impugned the nation’s law enforcement agencies and publicly undermined the consensus view of its intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the campaign.
When asked whether he would use this moment to denounce Russia for its behavior, Mr. Trump acknowledged that his own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and other senior officials had told him that Russia was culpable.
But, the president declared, “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia.” He added, “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Then he unleashed a fusillade of accusations about Hillary Clinton and her missing emails, the F.B.I. and the D.N.C.’s missing computer server, and the testimony of the F.B.I. agent, Peter Strzok. He also offered a defiant defense of his “brilliant” campaign victory, reminding reporters in Helsinki of the electoral-college margin, 306 to 232.
To a domestic audience, many of Mr. Trump’s assertions were familiar — the grist for countless early-morning tweets or stream-of-consciousness outbursts during political rallies. But to hear Mr. Trump utter them while standing next to the leader of the very country accused of carrying out those actions was a spectacle of an entirely different order.
The president’s performance provoked an immediate reaction.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, said in a statement.
John O. Brennan, who served as C.I.A. director under President Barack Obama, said, “Donald Trump’s news conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”
[Read more on former CIA spymaster John Brennan and his thoughts on the president]
As he did after white supremacists beat their opponents in Charlottesville, Mr. Trump reached in Helsinki for a kind of moral equivalence.
“I hold both countries responsible,” he said, when asked whether he held Russia responsible for anything. “I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should’ve had this dialogue a long time ago — a long time, frankly, before I got to office.”
While the president lashed out at all manner of domestic enemies, he said nothing about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its predatory behavior toward Ukraine, its bloody intervention in Syria, or the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.
So disorienting was Mr. Trump’s performance that at times, it fell to Mr. Putin to try to cushion the blow.
When a reporter asked whether Mr. Trump had raised objections to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Mr. Putin answered that of course the American president had objected. Mr. Trump was silent.
When Mr. Trump was asked whether he had pressed Mr. Putin on the issue of Russian interference, Mr. Putin replied, “Where do you get this idea that I trust President Trump or that he trusts me? He defends the interests of the United States of America, and I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation.”
Yet on perhaps the most unsettling question of all — whether Russia had compromising material on the president — Mr. Putin offered Mr. Trump no comfort. Instead of simply saying no, he observed that Mr. Trump was one of hundreds of American business people who had visited Russia.
“Do you think we try to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them?” Mr. Putin asked.
Trump caved spectacularly to Putin. Here's what might happen next
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
3 hrs ago
For as long as history remembers Donald Trump, it will be a day that will live in infamy.
The President's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday is already one of the most notorious moments in the tortured relations between Washington and Moscow.
Trump's humiliation is taking its place alongside John Kennedy's bruising at the hands of Nikita Khrushchev, and George W. Bush staring into Putin's eyes and getting a sense of his soul.
Like those moments in US-Russia summit lore, the events that unfolded Monday are likely to have significant and unpredictable political and geopolitical reverberations in the United States and around the world.
Trump's favoring of Putin's denial of election interference accusations leveled by the US intelligence community was not just the most abject display given by any President overseas, it may be the moment that finally validated claims that Trump prizes his own interests above those of America.
The most obvious question -- why did Trump cave so spectacularly to Putin -- is likely to remain cloudy going forward, at least unless special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence the President is beholden to the Russian leader.
But there are going to be profound consequences in Washington and beyond.
It's no surprise that Trump showed no similar self-awareness in a sympathetic interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on Monday, but Kennedy's description of his humiliation would be a good summation of the 45th President's encounter with Putin.
Objectively, Trump has emerged from the summit a diminished figure.
He looked weak. He was obsequious to the stone-faced Russian leader and came across as unprepared and outmatched. He looked as far as it is possible to be from his own self-image as a bullying tough-as-nails dealmaker, the man who boasted at the Republican National Convention in 2016 that "I alone can fix it."
The myth of Trump as an American strongman may never recover.
It is already clear that the summit is a short-term political disaster for Trump. For a man who jealously guards his image, the mockery will sting and will provoke a backlash.
Top Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who normally don't criticize him, put distance between themselves and Trump.
"The President must appreciate that Russia is not our ally, there is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia," Ryan said in a written statement.
Even Newt Gingrich, a Trump supporter, rediscovered his roots as an old Cold Warrior.
"President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected -- immediately," Gingrich tweeted.
Trump tried to clean up his mess in tweets as he flew home across the Atlantic.
"As I said today and many times before, 'I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people,'" he wrote. "However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past -- as the world's two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!"
A normal President might rethink his approach to leadership.
It was his hubris and desire to be unchained from his staff that led him to meet Putin alone for nearly two hours in Helsinki -- fueling rumors that he is under the Russian leader's spell. His claim that he was ready for what would be the "easier" leg of his European tour now looks damning. Trump's confidence that he can wing it through international summits ought to be in tatters -- given his failure in Finland and the ballyhooed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last month, where the President also seemed outmaneuvered.
More likely, Trump will double down and change the subject. When he's in a corner, he fights back. Twitter may catch fire on Tuesday.
What will the West do now?
Trump is supposed to be the leader of the free world. But such men don't kowtow to Russian dictators.
Trump's performance on Monday followed his blitzkrieg through Europe, in which he split the transatlantic alliance, and insulted allied leaders like Germany's Angela Merkel and Britain's Theresa May -- effectively doing Putin's work for him.
The debacle in Finland was exactly what America's friends feared before Trump even left Europe, and it is already beginning to shape their calculations going forward.
"We can no longer completely rely on the White House," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group, according to Reuters.
"To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it."
Despite Trump's trolling of US allies over defense spending, the NATO summit last week did take steps to bolster transatlantic defenses and rapid reaction forces. Yet in an alliance built on the principle that an attack on one is an attack on all, the symbolic leadership of the US President is an existential issue. Europe is increasingly nervous.
So it is significant that Maas used the words "White House" rather than the United States -- because it reflects how Europeans are increasingly looking for ways to engage Washington through other centers of power rather than through the capricious President.
Beneath the uproar of Trump's disruptive blast through Europe, strong links remain between the military, business, intelligence agencies and civil society groups on either side of the Atlantic.
Those may be crucial to riding out the Trump storm.
Nicholas Dungan, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who teaches at the prestigious French research university Sciences Po, said it was time for America's friends in Europe and for the US leadership class -- political figures, CEOs, heads of think tanks and universities -- to take action.
"Stop wringing your hands ... get your act together and start doing things that are going to repair the situation, rather than just sitting around and talking about how bad the situation is with Trump," he said.
Dungan argued that America's friends -- like French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- need to adopt a dual track approach:
"You need two different policies. You need one policy to the individual Donald Trump, because it's clear that he doesn't make the distinction between himself and his office. You need another policy toward the United States of America."
That searing experience nurtured a fierce grievance against the United States, the victor in the Cold War, and a political career dedicated to the reversal of Moscow's humiliation.
By so comprehensively outpointing the American President in full view of the world -- and the viewers back home on state television in Russia -- Putin engineered a full circle moment.
"Vladimir Putin pitched a shutout. Trump got beat up in the locker room," retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a former Fox News analyst, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday, calling the US leader a "disgrace" to the country and the presidency.
US intelligence experts said Putin will take one message from Monday's events: that Trump is weak and there is no price to be paid for warping US democracy.
"The President missed a prime opportunity to confront Putin face-to-face and assert with some level of forcefulness that we know that you did this and here's what we are going to do if you don't stop," said Richard Ledgett, a former deputy director of the National Security Agency.
The fear now is that Putin will interpret Trump's solicitous showing in Helsinki as an incentive to come back for more -- to try to manipulate the midterm elections in November, or in 2020 with an updated version of the Russian hacking and interference assault that occurred in 2016.
A choice for GOP, Cabinet members, White House staff
Trump's disaster in Helsinki left everyone who works for him, or supports him, with a choice.
Does it matter that the President refused to stand up for America abroad and chose to align himself with the global political figure who is most hostile to American power, values and historic achievements?
The first officials in the hot seat are the chieftains of the intelligence services, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who was personally repudiated by the President in the news conference. Coats had just said last week that the "warning lights are blinking red again" over possible Russian interference in the midterms.
"We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy," Coats said in a statement after the summit.
But Trump's behavior raises questions about how top intelligence officials can remain in their posts after being so spectacularly thrown under the bus.
After the White House and State Department went dark Monday, unable to explain Trump's performance, senior officials are also likely to engage in fresh soul searching.
Monday's events train new scrutiny on top Republicans, who will come under renewed pressure to rein in their President. But this time, as after every previous outrage, it seems unlikely they will take on the political base that never deserts Trump.
"Today's performance by the President should be a signal to many of those people that it's time to perhaps say publicly what you say privately in the parlors and restaurants of Washington," Larry Pfeiffer, the senior director of the Situation Room in the Obama administration, who also served in the CIA under President George W. Bush, said on CNN.
House Speaker Paul Ryan contradicted several comments Trump made during his Helsinki news conference, most notably backing the US intelligence community assessment that Russia meddled with the US 2016 presidential election.
"There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world," said Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, in a statement. "That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence."
Ryan continued, "The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke briefly with reporters Monday, giving his support to the US intelligence community.
"I've said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community," the Kentucky Republican said. He did not answer a question on whether he would tell Trump that he disagreed with him.
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has consistently criticized the President, said Trump's comments were "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the President "made us look like a pushover" and that Putin was probably eating caviar on the plane home.
"I was very disappointed and saddened with the equivalency that he gave between them (the US intelligence agencies) and what Putin was saying," said Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is not seeking re-election.
Trump's comments that appeared to equivocate Putin's denial of Russian election meddling and the US intelligence community's assessment were commonly evoked in the steady stream of criticism. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, issued a blistering statement just minutes after the press conference wrapped.
Sasse rebuked Trump's statement that he held "both countries responsible" for the deteriorated relationship between the United States and Russia.
"This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression," Sasse said in the statement. "When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs."
Some Republicans 'deeply troubled' by Trump
Some Republicans in both the House and Senate -- even some typically seen as allies to the President -- said in the hours following the news conference that they were concerned over what they heard Monday.
"The President's summit in Helsinki today should have been an attempt at confronting Russian aggression, hacking, and election interference," Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, said in a tweet. "Russia is not a friend or ally. As Americans, we stand up for our interests and values abroad; but I fear today was a step backwards."
"As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump's defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security," tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who was among the Republicans leading last week's sharply partisan hearing of FBI agent Peter Strzok, made clear Monday he did not see Russia as a US ally.
"I am confident former CIA Director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, DNI Dan Coats, Ambassador Nikki Haley, FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success," Gowdy said in a statement.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she sharply disagreed with Trump's comments.
"It's certainly not helpful for the President to express doubt about the conclusions of his own team," Collins told reporters. "He has assembled a first-rate intelligence team handled by Dan Coats and I would hope that he would take their analysis over the predictable denials of President Putin."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who has had a close working relationship with Trump on issues related to health care and tax reform, tweeted that the summit was a "missed opportunity."
"Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections," Graham tweeted. "This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves."
Graham also warned Trump to leave a soccer ball, a gift from Putin, outside of the White House.
"If it were me, I'd check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House," Graham said.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who has been constant critic, called the President's performance "shameful."
"I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful," tweeted Flake, who is not running for re-election.
Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican and former undercover CIA officer, expressed shock at Trump's attitude towards Putin and Russia.
"I've seen the Russian intelligence manipulate many people many people in my career, and I never would have thought the US President would be one of them," Hurd said on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
Republicans show support for US intelligence community
Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger called Trump's comments rebuking the US intelligence community assessment "a disservice," though he did not mention Trump by name.
"The American people deserve the truth, & to disregard the legitimacy of our intelligence officials is a disservice to the men & women who serve this country. It's time to wake up & face reality. #Putin is not our friend; he's an enemy to our freedom," Kinzinger tweeted.
The responses came after Trump declined to endorse the US intelligence community's finding that the Russians interfered in the 2016 US election.
Instead, Trump said Putin was "extremely strong and powerful" in his denial.
"I have confidence in both parties," Trump said of Russia and the US intelligence community.
"I have real confidence in my intelligence people, but I must tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial," Trump said.
A senior GOP congressional aide told CNN it's "shocking he would disrespect our intel community on foreign soil. Next to Putin."
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, a key Trump ally, issued a statement backing up the intelligence community, but did not directly criticize the President.
"Russia interfered in the 2016 election," Hatch said in a statement. "Our nation's top intelligence agencies all agree on that point. From the President on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence and interference, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says. I trust the good work of our intelligence and law enforcement personnel who have sworn to protect the United States of America from enemies foreign and domestic."
New Jersey Republican Frank LoBiondo, who chairs the House CIA subcommittee, also said Trump missed an opportunity to grill Putin.
"I strongly disagree w/ statement that Russia did not meddle in 2016 election. With all I have seen on House Intel Comm & additional indictments of 12 Russian officers last week, it is clear Russia's intentions. President Trump missed opportunity to hold Putin publicly accountable," tweeted LoBiondo, who is not running for re-election.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump "took the word of the KGB over the men and women of the CIA."
He called on Republicans to speak out.
"In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin," the New York Democrat said at a news conference.
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, tweeted "for the President to side with Putin over his own intelligence officials and blame the United States for Russia's attack on our democracy is a complete disgrace."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said Trump embarrassed the US.
"Once again, @realDonaldTrump takes to the international stage to embarrass America, undermine our institutions, weaken our alliances, & embrace a dictator. Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable -- not rewarded. Disgraceful," Warren tweeted.
Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, tweeted that someday the US would "turn the page on this dark chapter," but it would not be easy.
"This is a sad, shameful moment for our great nation. We will reclaim our values and reassert our global leadership. We'll turn the page on this dark chapter. But it won't happen on its own. We all must stand up—to side with U.S. law enforcement and to protect all Americans," Kaine said.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, called Trump's statements "shocking and dismaying and, in fact, appeasement."
"Donald Trump was a patsy, a pushover and a puppet. Not a President. He, in effect, instead of putting America's interests first, he blamed America first and he blamed everyone except Russia and himself," Blumenthal said on CNN's "The Situation Room."
Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room," Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, also of Connecticut, said that what Trump's actions during the summit really showed is that the President simply "doesn't care."
Himes said that "if the President had been firm ... maybe Putin would have taken a step back," but what instead resulted was "a truly disgraceful performance that puts our national security at deep risk."
"What Putin got from the President was this," Himes said. "There is nothing you can do, nothing you can contemplate so bad, that the most powerful country in the world -- the United States of America -- will call you out on it."
Sen. Chris Murphy's mouth was "still agape" by the time of his appearance on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" -- namely because it seemed to be a "settled fact" by "everyone in the US who knows what's going on" that the Russians had interfered with the 2016 elections, despite Trump statements at the summit.
"The bar was so low for this press conference," the Connecticut Democrat said. "All Trump needed to do was offer some mild pushback against the election interference, say something about the need for Russia to withdraw from eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and he couldn't do any of that."
He added, "America is a whole lot weaker than we were going into this today."
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN's Ted Barrett, Jim Acosta, Manu Raju, Eli Watkins, Sunlen Serfaty and Jeremy Herb contributed to his report.
Putin, in Fox News interview, denies having dirt on Trump, calls meddling charge 'utterly ridiculous'
10 hrs ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an occasionally combative interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, called it “utterly ridiculous” that some people think the Russians could have swayed millions of American voters in the 2016 election, while insisting his country did not have dirt on President Trump or his family.
“Interference with the domestic affairs of the United States -- do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?” Putin said. “This is utterly ridiculous.”
The Russian president sat down for the interview airing on “Special Report” Monday after his summit earlier in the day with President Trump and other U.S. officials in Helsinki, Finland. Trump has faced harsh bipartisan criticism back home for his press conference with Putin, with lawmakers claiming Trump missed a key chance to "stand up" to the Russian president on election meddling.
The summit came just days after the Justice Department announced the indictments of a dozen Russian intelligence operatives for allegedly hacking Democratic targets in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. At one point in the interview, Wallace tried handing Putin a copy of the indictment. But Putin motioned for him to put the papers on a side table instead.
“First of all, Russia, as a state, has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections,” Putin replied.
Putin also denied having “kompromat” -- or "compromising material" -- on Trump. Earlier Monday, after Putin and Trump’s joint news conference, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California claimed Trump’s “weakness in front of Putin... proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically.”
Also during the interview, Putin said Russia would respond “negatively” if NATO were to add either Ukraine or Georgia to the alliance.
“For us, well, it's a direct and immediate threat for our national security…moving this NATO infrastructure towards our borders would be a threat, and…the reaction would be extremely negative,” Putin said.
“We don't have anything on them,” Putin said.
He added: “I don't want to insult President Trump when I say this -- and I may come as rude -- but before he announced that he will run for presidency, he was of no interest for us.”
The rumor of the Russians having compromising information on Trump was a central claim in the unverified and salacious dossier written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and financed by Democrats that made its way to the FBI during the early stages of the Russia investigation.
“He was a rich person, but, well, there's plenty of rich persons in the United States,” Putin said of Trump. “He was in the construction business. He organized the beauty pageants. But no, it would never occur to anyone that he would think of running for president.”
Putin argued Russia wouldn’t have the resources to track Trump had it wanted to do so. To make a point, Putin said the annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum usually draws 500 business leaders and most of them are industrial tycoons on a “greater scale” than Trump as a businessman.
“Do you think that our Special Services actually organized surveillance on each and every of them?” Putin said. “Well, unlike you, unlike the United States, we don't do this. We don't have enough resources. We don't have enough manpower to organize the total state of control. That's not part of our plans. And it's clear that we did nothing of that kind of against Mr. Trump.”
Wallace also asked Putin about Russia’s involvement in Syria, citing independent monitors saying Russia has bombed civilians in Aleppo and Ghouta.
Asked if he has qualms about killing innocent men, women and children, Putin replied: “You know, when there [is] warfare going on -- and this is the worst thing that can happen [for] humankind – [victims] are inevitable, and there will always be a question of who’s to blame. I think it is the terrorist groups who are to blame who destabilized the situation in the country.”
At one point, Putin told Wallace: “You are completely deceived, and I am very sorry that you do not know the real situation…about Syria.”
Pressed on why his political enemies have been attacked, Putin quipped: “Well, first of all, all of us have plenty of political rivals. I'm pretty sure President Trump has plenty of political rivals.”
Wallace shot back: “But they don't end up dead.”
“Haven't presidents been killed in the United States?” Putin replied. “Have you forgotten about -- well, has [President John F.] Kennedy been killed in Russia or in the United States? Or [Dr. Martin Luther] King? What -- and what happens to the clashes between police and, well, civil society, and some -- several ethnic groups? Well, that's something that happens on the U.S. soil. All of us have our own set of domestic problems.”
During the interview, Putin also pushed back against the characterizations of him as a strongman, an autocrat.
“I'm not laying any claim to be this kind of a strongman that I'm being portrayed,” he said.
Fox News' Chris Wallace and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Streamed live 18 hours ago
The just-completed summit between presidents Trump and Putin has surprised - and infuriated - President Trump's supporters and detractors at home. Is this the beginning of an improvement in relations...or will the neocons have the last word?
The leftists never give up on their attempting to project their agenda into their dull eyed followers heads, do they?
Pretty pathetic IMO.
I am thankful though that the left isn't smart enough to change any of their tired, worn predictable tactics.
No matter how many times they fail!
The so called intelligence agencies that he is supposed to trust have proven quite well over the past year and a 1/2 how trustworthy they are.
There is the false flag mueller probe, there is the complete breakdown of the fbi, the cia and so on.
These are the people he is supposed to trust over putin? The same ones who are trying to stab him in the back daily, feed him bs info in their attempts to play him the fool. Those?
Sure, he could have stated it differently, but to me the real fall out may still come from those same intelligence orgs. He does this with everyone he meets at high levels, where he comes out and states each of them is the greatest thing since sliced bread, until his next meeting, rinse repeat. Chi, Abe, mini chin, May, Putin, etc. It is just the way he operates.
Even now, the pounding of the war drums are loud, real loud. Claiming russia this, china that, NK is going to blow off nucs, etc. Why didn't he address Crimea? Why didn't he address Syria? All crawling right up his grill about their constant talking points. He ignored them all that past presidents have parroted the same nonsense over and over.
They are trying to restart the cold war all over again with the commentary. How bad russia is, over and over. He is evil, he is this or that.
To listen to these people makes one sick. Playing the same old record over and over.
Trump has fight ahead after summit, says former diplomat RT America
Published on Jul 16, 2018
A major summit between Presidents Putin and Trump in Helsinki, Finland today. This was only the second face-to-face meeting between the presidents. President Trump made a call for cooperation between the two powers despite recent international disputes. President Putin also made a call for cooperation saying the cold war ended a long time ago and repeated the call for cooperation. RT America’s Holland Cooke discusses with former US diplomat Jim Jatras.
At first glance saying: yesterday was a very good day, might sound like spin. However, for those who have been frustrated about the lack of righteous push-back from the executive office; the attacks from the former “spygate” co-conspirators might be just what is needed to trigger President Trump to declassify the underlying material.
Consider the tweets from James Comey (former FBI), John Brennan (former CIA), Sally Yates (former DOJ), and statement from Ash Carter (former DoD).
Think about the bigger questions:
Why would former administration officials feel the need to engage in such discourse? What exactly does their response say about their personal attachment to current events? …and more importantly, what do they all have in common?
If you note they are all connected to the intelligence apparatus, and more specifically the well documented FISA abuse, well, yeah, things start making a lot of sense. After all, at the center of all the intelligence corruption in 2015/2016 is the exploitation of FBI/NSA databases for political opposition research and weaponization.
The over-the-top responses to a meeting and press conference between President Trump and Russian President Putin highlights the extent to which the prior officials have formed all of their defenses around the Russian conspiracy narrative. They are all-in.
The Russian conspiracy narrative was formed as both their insurance policy against a Trump administration; and a necessary collective defense -passed on to Robert Mueller inc- to ensure an offense was always present to insure their activity never surfaced.
However, in a rather unusual way, an elevated urgency in attack formation by the Scheme Team; their UniParty allies in the DC swamp; and their media advocates writ large; might end up pushing Trump toward a position where he decides to unleash the atomic sledgehammer of truth and declassify material that will finally outline the plot publicly.
One thing is sure, Trump won’t quit the fight; I’m not sure they realize that… yet. So in an odd way, and specifically because there’s an abundant amount of material available for declassification that can highlight the fraud, I find myself happy to see the increased vitriol. Example: Think about what would happen if Trump took away the redactions from the April 2017 FISA Court Order/Ruling on the 2015/2016 FISA abuse.
As President Trump noted in his interview with Maria Bartiromo recently, his ‘advisers’ have all recommended he stay away from the ongoing congressional battles against current FBI and DOJ officials. The one thing that can change the geography of that dynamic is if the schemers (being protected by the career officials) begin taking ground.
One thing is sure, amid the timely coordination between Team Mueller and the former officials the desperation is more visible. And when an increased desperation is visible, that generally means there’s something closer to the surface that needs to be hidden.
With that in mind a picture is emerging that might begin to reconcile some of the events noted in the past several weeks. Crowdstrike was an “FBI contractor” in 2015 and 2016. Crowdstrike was also hired by the DNC, DCCC and Clinton campaign. The FBI never had access to the servers and equipment they claim was probed/hacked/infiltrated by Russians. Instead, the FBI relied upon third-hand forensic reports from Crowdstrike to formulate their sketchy conclusions.
If Crowdstrike was one of the ’15/’16 “FBI contractors” abusing the NSA/FBI database for 702, 704, 705(b) (Pages 82, 84) intelligence searches (which were clearly being done for political opposition research), and passing that unlawfully extracted FISA intelligence to the DNC, DCCC and/or Clinton Campaigns, then suddenly a series of events surrounding the mysteriously missing servers begins to make more sense.
The April/May 2016 timeline points to a connection.
Additionally, if Crowdstrike was doing political opposition research via their contractor access to the NSA/FBI database, it would also explain the Awan issue(s) and the motive for the FBI/DOJ to throw a bag over the Awan case.
Remember, access to the DNC and DCCC electronic records was part of the Awan story. If Crowdstrike was a contractor doing the database searches, and sharing the results with the DNC/DCCC, the Awan brothers would also have access to that information. This would explain the DOJ/FBI (officials therein) motive to quickly get rid of the Awan investigation, and it would explain why the FBI was never allowed access to the DNC/DCCC servers. Indeed the sketchy “Russia hacking story” becomes a convenient cover for a multitude of issues.
Again we go back to the single-most-important FISA document that was declassified by ODNI Dan Coats on April 26th, 2017:
Just consider those two segments for a moment. From the spacing of the redactions we can tell the number of queries is in the four digits, ie. “thousands”. We can also see that 85% of those search queries were “non compliant” from November 1, 2015, through May 1, 2016. [Coincidentally the exact dates later described by the DNC for their hacking issues]
That means 850 out of each 1,000 searches was for unauthorized purposes. Later, on Page #82, the NSA reports they have no way to know where the information went based on these non-compliant queries.
At this point there’s every reason to believe that Fusion-GPS and/or Crowdstrike are government contractor names behind these redactions; both organizations using their access to the NSA/FBI database to conduct political opposition research using non-compliant search queries. Both Fusion-GPS and Crowdstrike were also formally working with the DNC and Clinton campaign.
[It has been reasonably suspected some of the information contained within the Steele Dossier came from these searches; including the wrong Michael Cohen visiting Prague.]
These FISA Court documents are the types of items President Trump can request to have declassified. However, there is a ‘catch-22’ scenario where a large group of people would not want the FISA abuse uncovered because they would be running the risk of losing a “critical national security tool” if the public becomes outraged.
President Trump would be sympathetic to those concerns and views…. AND, not surprisingly we see evidence of the struggle within former NSA Director Mike Rogers, current DNI Dan Coats, and current HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes.
Connected to the big picture CTH finds it particularly interesting that John Brennan and Ash Carter are railing against the Trump-Putin meeting:
You might remember it was John Brennan, Ash Carter and DNI James Clapper who were demanding that NSA Director Mike Rogers be fired after he informed the FISA court of the abuses and then informed President-Elect Trump of the likely motive for it: October 2016: On Friday November 18th, 2016, The Washington Post reportedon a recommendation in “October” that Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position:
The heads of the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.
The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
[…] In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower. That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal personnel matters. (link)
To ensure the NSA/FBI data was not weaponized against U.S. Persons, Admiral Mike Rogers final act as NSA director was to move Cyber Command into the unified combatant command structure of the U.S. military.
I am becoming increasingly suspicious the *actual 2015/2016 interface* accessing the FISA NSA/FBI database for unauthorized searches, was *also* through servers connected to the DNC, DCCC and Clinton campaigns.pic.twitter.com/D42fZCbztM
The Big Ugly is approaching fast. Trump’s overt name dropping and accusations, combined with the conspirators’ Twitter chatter, indicates the increasing pace and size of the storm. Investigations must be all but completed. Do they implicate all the way to the top? Unlimited thanks to Sundance and CTH team!
Anybody want to bet against Sessions now?
Obama in Kenya coincidentally?
Q radio silent since July 4th.
Growing Alarm in Europe as Trump Warms to Putin in Helsinki VOA News
Published on Jul 17, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump has predicted an ‘extraordinary relationship’ between the U.S. and Russia following a summit in Helsinki Monday with Vladimir Putin. In Europe, there is growing alarm at the U.S. President’s willingness to build relations with Moscow, even as Russia stands accused of forcefully annexing Crimea from Ukraine, downing Flight MH17, and using a nerve agent on British soil to target a former spy, among many other accusations. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Originally published at - https://www.voanews.com/a/4485846.html
Today was a good day. All of this was going to happen — the start of The Great Reckoning — it’s just a matter of when it would happen. Trump simply sped up the timeline.
And I’d rather have this fight now than have it closer to the midterms. Sure, Mueller is likely to release his fake obstruction report before the election, but let’s start walking all of this down now, in the summer, when fewer people are paying attention and thus the outrage machine has less effect.
Mueller is on the run. If he were not, he would not have done the stunt indictments on Friday or the NRA Russian yesterday. All designed to “bookend” the summit. Those are not the actions of a non-desperate person.
The Fringe Left has the same reaction over and over again. Hyper outrage. This time, though, they caught in some off-kilter conservatives (thinking Newt here) to go along with their narrative. I don’t blame Congressional GOP’ers for pushing back on Trump. They have to win elections. Ok. But people like Newt should know better.
As Sundance says, there is an enormous amount of material for the Coup people to cover up. They have to keep the dogs off the scent, and so Unpatriotic Trump will do, for now, as they move on to the next shield they can hide behind.
Mueller is the sword and shield for these people. He’s literally all they have, and he could be the only thing standing between them and 50 years in jail, destroyed reputations, and penniless existences. They have to hang on to Muh Russia, have to be all-in.
For example, reader Brian stated " There is zero doubt now that Putin stole the election from Hillary. So much so that she MUST be given the nomination again in 2020. All potential challengers must step aside. To refuse her the 2020 nomination would be evidence of traitorous activities with Putin."'
I congratulated Brian for brilliant sarcasm but he piled on. It now seems he was serious.
Mainstream media, the Left an the Right were in general condemnation.
Numerous cries of treason emerged from the Left and the Right (see the above link)
It Happened - No Trial Necessary
A friend I highly respect commented "There is simply no question that they did it. You can legitimately claim that it’s not important or that there has been no tie to Trump shown. On the Russians’ side, they can say, screw off, we were pursuing our interests. But you can’t take the view it did not happen. It happened."
There is a question who did it. Indictments are just that, not proof.
The US fabricated evidence to start the Vietnam war and the US fabricated WMD talk on the second war in Iraq. US intelligence had no idea the Berlin Wall was about to fall. The US meddled in Russia supporting a drunk named Yeltsin because we erroneously thought we could control him.
They Are All Liars
It's a mystery why anyone would believe these proven liars. That does not mean I believe Putin either. They are all capable liars.
Let's step back from the absurd points of view to reality.
The US tries to influence elections in other countries and has a history of assisting the forcible overthrow of governments we don’t like.
All of the above are massive disasters of US meddling. They are all actions of war, non-declared, and illegal.
I cannot and do not condone such actions even if they were legal.
911 and ISIS resulted from US meddling. The migration crisis in the EU is a direct consequence of US meddling. The Iranian revolution was a direct consequence of US meddling.
Now we are pissing and moaning that Russia spent a few million dollars on Tweets to steal the election. Please be serious.
Let's assume for one second the DNC hack was Russia-based.
Is there a reason to not be thankful for evidence that Hillary conspired to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination?
We are supposed to pity Hillary?
The outrage from the Right is amazing.
It's pretty obvious Senator John McCain wanted her to win. Neither faced a war or military intervention they disapproved of.
Let's move on to a common sense position from Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept.
GLENN GREENWALD: In 2007, during the Democratic presidential debate, Barack Obama was asked whether he would meet with the leaders of North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and Iran without preconditions. He said he would. Hillary Clinton said she wouldn’t, because it would be used as a propaganda tool for repressive dictators. And liberals celebrated Obama. It was one of his greatest moments and one of the things that I think helped him to win the Democratic nomination, based on the theory that it’s always better to meet with leaders, even if they’re repressive, than to isolate them or to ignore them. In 1987, when President Reagan decided that he wanted to meet with Soviet leaders, the far right took out ads against him that sounded very much just like what we just heard from Joe, accusing him of being a useful idiot to Soviet and Kremlin propaganda, of legitimizing Russian aggression and domestic repression at home.
GLENN GREENWALD: It is true that Putin is an authoritarian and is domestically repressive. That’s true of many of the closest allies of the United States, as well, who are even far more repressive, including ones that fund most of the think tanks in D.C., such as the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. And I think the most important issue is the one that we just heard, which is that 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are in the hands of two countries—the United States and Russia—and having them speak and get along is much better than having them isolate one another and increase the risk of not just intentional conflict, but misperception and miscommunication, as well.
JOE CIRINCIONE: Right. Let’s be clear. Glenn, there’s nothing wrong with meeting. I agree with you. Leaders should meet, and we should be negotiating with our foes, with those people we disagree with. We’re better off when we do that. And the kind of attacks you saw on Barack Obama were absolutely uncalled for, and you’re right to condemn those.
JOE CIRINCIONE: What I’m worried about is this president meeting with this leader of Russia and what they’re going to do. That’s what’s so wrong about this summit coming now, when you have Donald Trump, who just attacked the NATO alliance, who calls our European allies foes, who turns a blind eye to what his director of national intelligence called the warning lights that are blinking red. About what? About Russian interference in our elections. So you just had a leader of Russia, Putin, a skilled tactician, a skilled strategist, interfere in a U.S. election. To what? To help elect Donald Trump.
GLENN GREENWALD: I think this kind of rhetoric is so unbelievably unhinged, the idea that the phishing links sent to John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee are the greatest threat to American democracy in decades. People are now talking about it as though it’s on par with 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, that the lights are blinking red, in terms of the threat level. This is lunacy, this kind of talk. I spent years reading through the most top-secret documents of the NSA, and I can tell you that not only do they send phishing links to Russian agencies of every type continuously on a daily basis, but do far more aggressive interference in the cybersecurity of every single country than Russia is accused of having done during the 2016 election. To characterize this as some kind of grave existential threat to American democracy is exactly the kind of rhetoric that we heard throughout the Bush-Cheney administration about what al-Qaeda was like.
JOE CIRINCIONE: Why does Donald Trump feel that he has to meet alone with Putin? What is going on there? I mean, that—when Ronald Reagan met with Gorbachev at Reykjavik, at least he had George Shultz with him. The two of them, you know, were meeting with Gorbachev and his foreign minister at the time. This is—it’s deeply disturbing. It makes you feel that Trump is hiding something, that he is either trying to make a deal with Putin, reporting something to Putin. I tell you, I know U.S. intelligence officials—I’m probably going right into Glenn’s wheelhouse here. But U.S. intelligence officials are concerned about what Donald Trump might be revealing to the Russian leader, the way he revealed classified information to the Russian foreign minister when he met privately with him in the Oval Office at the beginning of his term. No, I don’t like it one bit.
GLENN GREENWALD: I continue to be incredibly frustrated by the claim that we hear over and over, and that we just heard from Joe, that Donald Trump does everything that Vladimir Putin wants, and that if he were a paid agent of the Russian government, there’d be—he would be doing nothing different. I just went through the entire list of actions that Donald Trump has taken and statements that he has made that are legitimately adverse to the interest of the Russian government, that Barack Obama specifically refused to do, despite bipartisan demands that he do them, exactly because he didn’t want to provoke more tensions between the United States and Russia. Sending lethal arms to Ukraine, bordering Russia, is a really serious adverse action against the interest of the Russian government. Bombing the Assad regime is, as well.
Denouncing one of the most critical projects that the Russian government has, which is the pipeline to sell huge amounts of gas and oil to Germany, is, as well. So is expelling Russian diplomats and imposing serious sanctions on oligarchs that are close to the Putin regime. You can go down the list, over and over and over, in the 18 months that he’s been in office, and see all the things that Donald Trump has done that is adverse, in serious ways, to the interests of Vladimir Putin, including ones that President Obama refused to do. So, this film, this movie fairytale, that I know is really exciting—it’s like international intrigue and blackmail, like the Russians have something over Trump; it’s like a Manchurian candidate; it’s from like the 1970s thrillers that we all watched—is inane—you know, with all due respect to Joe. I mean, it’s—but it’s in the climate, because it’s so contrary to what it is that we’re seeing. Now, this idea of meeting alone with Vladimir Putin, the only way that you would find that concerning is if you believed all that.
JOE CIRINCIONE: So, Trump knew that this indictment was coming down, before he went to Europe, and still he never says a word about it. What he does is continue his attacks on our alliances, i.e. he continues his attacks on our free press, he continues his attacks on FBI agents who were just doing their job, and supports this 10-hour show hearing that the House of Representatives had. It’s really unbelievable that Trump is doing these things and never says one word about it. He still has not said a word about those indictments.
GLENN GREENWALD: That’s because the reality is—and I don’t know if Donald Trump knows this or doesn’t know this, has stumbled into the truth or what—but the reality is that what the Russians did in 2016 is absolutely not aberrational or unusual in any way. The United—I’m sorry to say this, but it’s absolutely true. The United States and Russia have been interfering in one another’s domestic politics for since at least the end of World War II, to say nothing of what they do in far more extreme ways to the internal politics of other countries. Noam Chomsky was on this very program several months ago, and he talked about how the entire world is laughing at this indignation from the United States—”How dare you interfere in our democracy!”—when the United States not only has continuously in the past done, but continues to do far more extreme interference in the internal politics of all kinds of countries, including Russia.
GLENN GREENWALD: The United States funds oppositional groups inside Russia. The United States sent advisers and all kinds of operatives to try and elect Boris Yeltsin in the mid-1990s, because they perceived, accurately, that he was a drunk who would serve the interests of the United States more than other candidates who might have won. The United States interferes in Russian politics, and they interfere in their cyber systems, and they invade their email systems, and they invade all kinds of communications all the time. And so, to treat this as though it’s some kind of aberrational event, I think, is really kind of naive.
GLENN GREENWALD: It wasn’t just Hillary Clinton in 2016 who lost this election. The entire Democratic Party has collapsed as a national political force over the last decade. They’ve lost control of the Senate and of the House and of multiple statehouses and governorships. They’re decimated as a national political force. And the reason is exactly what Joe said. They become the party of international globalization. They’re associated with Silicon Valley and Wall Street billionaires and corporate interests, and have almost no connection to the working class. And that is a much harder conversation to have about why the Democrats have lost elections than just blaming a foreign villain and saying it’s because Vladimir Putin ran some fake Facebook ads and did some phishing emails. And I think that until we put this in perspective, about what Russia did in 2016 and the reality that the U.S. does that sort of thing all the time to Russia and so many other countries, we’re going to just not have the conversation that we need to be having about what these international institutions, that are so sacred—NATO and free trade and international trade organizations—have done to people all over the world, and the reason they’re turning to demagogues and right-wing extremists because of what these institutions have done to them. That’s the conversation we need to be having, but we’re not having, because we’re evading it by blaming everything on Vladimir Putin. And that, to me, is even more dangerous for our long-term prospects than this belligerence that’s in the air about how we ought to look at Moscow.
Indictments and First Year Law
Mish: I now wish to return to a statement my friend made regarding the idea "No question Russia did it".
From Glenn Greenwald
As far as the indictments from Mueller are concerned, it’s certainly the most specific accounting yet that we’ve gotten of what the U.S. government claims the Russian government did in 2016. But it’s extremely important to remember what every first-year law student will tell you, which is that an indictment is nothing more than the assertions of a prosecutor unaccompanied by evidence. The evidence won’t be presented until a trial or until Robert Mueller actually issues a report to Congress. And so, I would certainly hope that we are not at the point, which I think we seem to be at, where we are now back to believing that when the CIA makes statements and assertions and accusations, or when prosecutors make statements and assertions and accusations, unaccompanied by evidence that we can actually evaluate, that we’re simply going to believe those accusations on faith, especially when the accusations come from George W. Bush’s former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who repeatedly lied to Congress about Iraq and a whole variety of other issues. So, I think there we need some skepticism. But even if the Russians did everything that Robert Mueller claims in that indictment that they did, in the scheme of what the U.S. and the Russians do to one another and other countries, I think to say that this is somehow something that we should treat as a grave threat, that should mean that we don’t talk to them or that we treat them as an enemy, is really irrational and really quite dangerous.
Mish - Six Questions
Is this a trial or a witch hunt?
Do we need to see the evidence or do we believe known liars?
Is Trump guilty of treason? Before we even see proof Putin was involved?
Is the CIA incapable of fabricating evidence?
Even if Russia interfered in the election, why should anyone have expected otherwise?
Has everyone forgotten the US lies on WMDs already?
Irrational and Dangerous
I don't know about you, but I have no reason to believe known liars and hypocrites.
I disagree with Trump all the time, in fact, more often than not.
The amount of venom on Trump over this is staggering.
Adding a missing word, I stand by my previous statement: "Nearly every political action that generates this much complete nonsense and hysteria from the Left and Right is worthy of immense praise."
If you disagree please provide examples. The only two I can come up with are Pearl Harbor and 911. In both, the US was directly attacked.
For rebuttal purposes I offer Vietnam, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Iran, WWI, treatment of Japanese-American citizens in WWII, and McCarthyism.
Greenwald accurately assesses the situation as "really irrational and really quite dangerous."
And if indictments and accusations were crimes, we wouldn't need a jury.
Well, there you have it boys and girls...the left, the right, the Europeans ALL going apoplectic over Trump and Putin summit and them acting in concert in denouncing HRC and the deep state/swamp cabal! OMG! This is OUTSTANDING!!!
Keep in mind the only evidence we'll see is the evidence we're told exists. It's up to every American to make up their own minds what evidence is valid and has merit and what the real the evidence will point to
Streamed live 56 minutes ago
Following yesterday's Trump-Putin summit and press conference, the mainstream media and most politicians have come completely unhinged. Some openly call for a coup against Trump. Most endlessly repeat the absurd claim that it is "treasonous" to meet with a foreign leader they don't like. How far will the hysteria go?
Trumps on TV now claiming he meant to say that he didn't see any reason that it wasn't Russia. Says he loves and respects American intelligence agencies. Total back stroking certain things while telling everyone he's on top of everything.
So this headline suggests Trump has always refused to accept that the Russians may have meddled in the election in any way. I'm not sure that's true, which is why I don't see any reason why I should take anything the media publishes seriously! I can't tell when they're reporting and when they're manipulating
So this headline suggests Trump has always refused to accept that the Russians may have meddled in the election in any way. I'm not sure that's true, which is why I don't see any reason why I should take anything the media publishes seriously! I can't tell when they're reporting and when they're manipulating