Nel's New Day

July 16, 2018

Helsinki: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

“Trump traveled to Finland, defended an American adversary, took cheap shots at Americans, and rejected the judgment of American intelligence professionals.”

That was a summary of today’s brief meeting between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the man who may have given the presidency to DDT. 

[Five of DDT’s team from Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, on the left to DDT’s Chief of Staff John Kelly second from right all look as upset as many people watching the press conference.]

Three days before DDT journeys to Helsinki to present the United States as a gift to Vladimir Putin, 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted with hacking the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign before release the stolen emails to “interfere in the 2016” election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he briefed DDT on the indictments earlier this week. Yet DDT continued to present the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt” and said that the Putin meeting would be “easier” than his participation in the NATO summit and visits in the UK. He also said that the DNC was to blame for the hacking because it didn’t have enough protection.

Hacking 76 emails occurred the same day—July 27, 2016—that DDT asked Russia to help his candidacy by finding the “missing emails. Russians also “hacked the website of a state board of elections and stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers,” according to the indictment, as well as hacking “into the computers of a U.S. vendor supplying software that verified voter registration information for the 2016 U.S. elections.”

The Putin/DDT meeting followed DDT’s claim that the European Union is a “major global foe” to the U.S. About Putin, DDT had said:

“He’s a competitor. He’s been very nice to me the times I’ve met him. I’ve been nice to him. He’s a competitor. Somebody was saying, is he an enemy? He’s not my enemy. Is he a friend? No, I don’t know him well enough. But the couple of times I’ve gotten to meet him, we get along very well.”

DDT also referred to U.S. journalists as “the enemy of the people” while the reporters were on foreign soil. In commenting that both his parents were born in E.U. countries, DDT skipped over the fact that his grandfather was deported from Bavaria with his family because of DDT’s grandfather’s draft dodging. Nor did DDT tell the public that he told Theresa May to “sue the E.U. — not go into negotiations.”

An “ex-Republican” wrote:

“If Putin could have his wishes he’d wish for a  dysfunctional US – EU alliance, a breakup of NATO, a US trade war with Canada, Mexico, Europe and China, unenforced Russia sanctions, a widening US gap between rich and poor, more US investments in oil and coal, increased US debt and refusal to acknowledge Russian election hacking.”

What actually happened in Helsinki? Putin showed up late—just as DDT did for his dinner with UK PM Theresa May and tea with Queen Elizabeth II. Before the meeting, DDT blamed the U.S. for any problems with Russia. Putin said he didn’t have anything to do with the U.S. elections, and Trump agreed with him.  Asked if he wanted DDT to win the election, Putin said, “Yes, I did.” Putin also indicated that he told his people to help DDT win.

At the press conference, DDT sided with Russia over the U.S. law enforcement, saying that didn’t see “any reason” why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election. He also leaped into a question to Putin about Russian election meddling by rambling about Hillary Clinton’s email server and his electoral college votes:

 “My people came to me…they said they think it’s 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, but I really do want to see the server, but I have confidence in both parties…what happened to the server?”

Going into the one-on-one meeting, the participants differed in their hopes of achievement:

Putin: lift sanctions by the U.S. and its (former?) allies, pull back NATO forces near Russia’s borders, accept Syrian army deployment on the Israeli border, reinstate business as usual with Moscow, get the U.S. to acknowledge Russia’s influence over its former Soviet neighbors, and recognize Russia as a global player.

DDT: “start a discussion.”

A prime goal for the U.S. could be to address Russian meddling in U.S. elections, which continues, as well as Russian explorations in vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and attempts to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear, and manufacturing sectors. Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, said that cyberattacks on the United States put the nation into as much danger as it was before 9/11. Yet DDT not only failed to criticize Russia for this meddling but also embrace the idea that Russia and U.S. work together in an investigation into these breaches—giving Russia more information to help them further meddle. [Coats issued a statement late today correcting DDT by stating that Russia definitely interfered with the U.S. election and continues its “efforts to undermine our democracy.”]

In the Helsinki meeting, DDT has continued his slogan of “Russia First.” He has abandoned U.S. international influence by leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Iran nuclear deal, Paris Climate Agreement, and UN Human Rights Council while threatening to leave the World Trade Organization and NATO.  He has further weakened U.S. global power and expanded that of Russia by cutting the State Department budget and foreign aid. His bullying has increased Russia in Central America where Russia is providing aid, reopening military bases, and building a satellite-tracking station to spy on the U.S. His rejection of Cuba allows Cubans to turn back to Russia. And he has alienated all U.S. allies with trade tariffs and insults.

Before and during the Helsinki meeting, DDT showed nothing but weakness. His words showed helplessness in trying to get Putin to stop meddling—if, indeed, DDT might not believes Putin’s denials. DDT said, “What can I do” if Putin denies meddling. “I don’t see any reason why” Russia would interfere in the election, DDT also said. Russians made DDT wealthy; he cannot cross them.

DDT is winning Republicans over to Russia. Forty percent of them now see Russia as “an ally or friendly” to the U.S., almost twice as many as four years ago. Those Republicans include seven senators and one representative who traveled to Russia on the Fourth of July to agree with officials that Russian election meddling—if any—wasn’t any problem. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Homeland Security Committee chair, summarized their attitude by saying that Russian interference in U.S. elections is “not the greatest threat to our democracy,” and “we’ve blown it way out of proportion.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), copying DDT in calling the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and blaming Russian aggression on NATO, has also decided to go to Russia in search for “common ground.”

The conservative media disagrees with these legislators. DDT’s go-to people on Fox were dismayed with his “performance.”

  • Guest Mark Weinberg on Varney’s program: “Putin won. Trump missed the opportunity.”
  • Ashley Webster: “He outmaneuvered our president. I was very surprised. I thought Trump was going to
  • Neil Cavuto: “[The performance was] “disgusting.”
  • John Roberts: “There is a growing consensus across the land tonight … that the president threw the United States under the bus.”
  • Brian Kilmeade about DDT’s tweet about U.S. horrible relationship with Russia: “That’s by far the most ridiculous tweet of late.”
  • Brit Hume: “Trump is unable to see past himself.”

Ultra-right Drudge Report’s lead headline, “Putin Dominates in Hel,” was accompanied by DDT’s awkwardness.

Jay Nordlinger wrote for the conservative National Review:

“Putin’s Russia is a dictatorship that kills critics, violates borders, interferes in democratic elections, etc. — and that’s why relations between it and the United States, a great liberal democracy, are bad. Also, the Mueller team has just indicted twelve GRU agents. Does our president think that’s the fruit of a ‘Rigged Witch Hunt’?”

Other responses from conservatives:

  • Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter: “I’m horrified!”
  • Abby Huntsman, a conservative commentator and daughter of US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman: “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus”.
  • Newt Gingrich: DDT’s statements on intelligence agencies are “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”

And GOP members of Congress:

  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE): “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): ” I’d check the soccer ball [that Putin gave Trump] for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.”
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been.”
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.
  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX): “I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands.”
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of former VP Dick Cheney: “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.”

U.S. handoffs to North Korea with nothing in return set up the scene for DDT’s meeting with Putin. Just the meeting, like DDT’s meeting with Kim Jong-Un, makes Putin the winner in what DDT erroneously calls a “summit.” Having a diplomatic meeting and not giving away U.S. activities for nothing may not be a problem; DDT’s meeting with Putin displayed neither of these. DDT’s creation of chaos by attacking Europe and starting a trade war with closest allies of the U.S. has already made Putin the victor. Now that DDT has trashed the U.S. with his pandering to Kim Jong-Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia, he plans to talk to the Taliban. What can go wrong?

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