news evaluation: Trump Sheds All Notions of How a President Ought to Conduct Himself Abroad
WASHINGTON &mdash President Trump, who gleefully defies the norms of presidential behavior, went someplace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday exactly where none of his predecessors have ever gone: He accepted the explanation of a hostile foreign leader more than the findings of his own intelligence agencies.
Mr. Trump&rsquos declaration that he saw no cause not to think President Vladimir V. Putin when he said the Russians did not try to fix the 2016 election was extraordinary adequate. But it was only one particular of several statements the likes of which no other president has uttered whilst on foreign soil.
He condemned the Justice Division&rsquos investigation of his campaign&rsquos ties to Russia as a &ldquodisaster for our country.&rdquo He recommended that the F.B.I. deliberately mishandled its investigation of Russia&rsquos hacking of the Democratic National Committee. And he labeled an F.B.I. agent who testified about that investigation prior to Congress as a &ldquodisgrace to our country.&rdquo
In the fiery, disruptive, guidelines-breaking arc of Mr. Trump&rsquos statecraft, his assertions in the course of a news conference with Mr. Putin marked a 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 white nationalist marchers and the activists who fought them final summer in Virginia, he shredded all the accepted conventions in Finland of how a president ought to conduct himself abroad.
Rather than defend the United States against those who would threaten it, he attacked his own citizens and institutions. Rather than challenge Mr. Putin, an adversary with a nicely-documented record of wrongdoing against the United States, he praised him without reservation.
His statements had been so divorced from American policy objectives, so at odds with the rest of his administration, so inexplicable on so a lot of levels that they brought to the surface a query that has lengthy shadowed Mr. Trump: Does Russia have some thing on him?
The president&rsquos motive, it seemed, was to fight, tooth and claw, for the legitimacy of his victory in the 2016 election. In the approach, he impugned the nation&rsquos 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 his news conference with Mr. Putin 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, &ldquoI have President Putin. He just stated it&rsquos not Russia.&rdquo He added, &ldquoI will say this: I don&rsquot see any explanation why it would be.&rdquo
Trump Trusts Putin&rsquos Denial, but Seven U.S. Intelligence Groups Blame Russia for Election Meddling
On Monday, President Trump continued to cast doubt on Russia&rsquos interference in the 2016 presidential election, the consensus position of American intelligence agencies and each parties on Capitol Hill.
Then he unleashed a fusillade of accusations about Hillary Clinton and her missing emails, the F.B.I., the D.N.C.&rsquos unexamined personal computer server and the testimony of the F.B.I. agent, Peter Strzok. He also offered a defiant defense of his &ldquobrilliant&rdquo presidential campaign, reminding reporters of the Electoral College tally, 306 to 232.
To a domestic audience, these assertions had been familiar &mdash the grist for numerous early-morning Twitter posts or stream-of-consciousness outbursts during &ldquoMake America Great Again&rdquo rallies. But to hear Mr. Trump utter them while standing subsequent to the leader of the quite nation accused of carrying out these attacks was a spectacle of an entirely various order.
&ldquoNo prior president has ever abased himself a lot more abjectly before a tyrant,&rdquo Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, mentioned in a statement. &ldquoToday&rsquos press conference in Helsinki was 1 of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.&rdquo
John O. Brennan, who served as C.I.A. director below President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter: &ldquoDonald Trump&rsquos press conference efficiency in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of &lsquohigh crimes and misdemeanors.&rsquo It was nothing at all brief of treasonous.&rdquo
Even Mr. Coats pushed back, issuing a statement saying that the intelligence agencies would stick to their assessment of &ldquoRussian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.&rdquo
On Sunday, Mr. Trump&rsquos national safety adviser, John R. Bolton, had defended the president&rsquos selection to meet with Mr. Putin by noting that President Franklin D. Roosevelt met Stalin, the Soviet tyrant, at the finish of Globe War II &mdash presumably a reference to the Yalta conference in February 1945. &ldquoLet&rsquos attempt and have historical point of view here,&rdquo Mr. Bolton mentioned.
Historians, nevertheless, mentioned Yalta only dramatized the depth of Mr. Trump&rsquos failure in Helsinki. Robert Dallek, who wrote a recent biography of Roosevelt, noted that Republicans faulted the 32nd president for appeasing Stalin in 1945. But Roosevelt, he stated, had a far weaker hand &mdash with the Red Army currently occupying Eastern Europe &mdash than Mr. Trump had.
&ldquoRoosevelt was dealing with the harsh realities that have been coming out of Globe War II,&rdquo Mr. Dallek said. &ldquoWe have no clear concept, but lots of guesswork, about why Trump seems to be so a lot in the pocket of Vladimir Putin.&rdquo
As he did following white supremacists beat their opponents in Charlottesville, Mr. Trump reached in Helsinki for a sort of moral equivalence.
&ldquoI hold both countries responsible,&rdquo he said, when asked whether he blamed Russia for anything. &ldquoI feel that the United States has been foolish. I believe we&rsquove all been foolish. We ought to&rsquove had this dialogue a extended time ago &mdash a long time, frankly, ahead of I got to office.&rdquo
How Republican Lawmakers Responded to Trump&rsquos Russian Meddling Denial
Reports of the president&rsquos comments prompted outcry from some lawmakers, but they had been followed by notable silence from other individuals.
Even though the president lashed out at all manner of domestic enemies, he stated nothing about Russia&rsquos 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&rsquos overall performance that at times, it fell to Mr. Putin to attempt to cushion the blow &mdash as if he recognized the damage that the president&rsquos remarks would result in in the United States.
When a reporter asked whether Mr. Trump had objected to Russia&rsquos annexation of Crimea in 2014, Mr. Putin answered that of course the American president had objected. Mr. Trump stood by in silence.
When yet another reporter asked why Mr. Trump ought to believe Mr. Putin&rsquos denials of Russian interference, the Russian president replied, &ldquoWhere did you get this concept that President Trump trusts me or I trust him? He defends the interests of the United States of America, and I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation.&rdquo
Mr. Putin made clear that he had rooted for Mr. Trump to win the election. &ldquoYes, I did,&rdquo he mentioned. &ldquoYes, I did. Simply because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia connection back to typical.&rdquo
However on probably the most unsettling question of all &mdash regardless of whether Russia possessed compromising material on the president &mdash Mr. Putin presented Mr. Trump no comfort. As an alternative of basically saying it did not, Mr. Putin stated he was properly conscious of the rumors, but that he had not been told that Mr. Trump had visited Moscow as a private businessman. And anyway, he added, hundreds of American business people check out Russia every single year.
&ldquoDo you feel we attempt to gather compromising material on each and every and each single 1 of them?&rdquo Mr. Putin asked.
Published at Tue, 17 Jul 2018 01:52:06 +0000