President Trump Undermined His Own Intelligence Agencies at Meeting with Putin
Photo: Grigory Dukor/Reuters
Today, in a meeting in Helsinki Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump seemed to take Putin's side on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Putin vehemently attacked the Mueller Special Counsel investigation and President Trump responded, “My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, 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 [Russia]. But I really do want to see the server. But I have confidence in both parties.” Trump then stated, “So 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, and what he did is an incredible offer.”
After the meeting, U.S Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats rightly stated (contrary to the President Trump’s comments), “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) also correctly stated that “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world… The President must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
John Brennan, the Director of the C.I.A. under President Obama took it too far, stating that Trump’s press conference “exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors [and] was nothing short of treasonous.” This claim is outrageous, but the general backlash against the U.S. President’s comments are completely justifiable.
About U.S - Russia relations, President Trump stated, “Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.” Trump also stated that he spent a lot of time discussing the election interference. The changing relationship comment doesn’t make a big deal of sense as the U.S - Russia relationship cannot magically change for the better after one short meeting (it should be noted that Putin was an hour late to this meeting, seemingly operating on his own time).
Trump stated that he held “both countries responsible” for the decline in U.S. - Russia relations. “I think that the United States has been foolish,” Trump declared. “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. And I think we’re all to blame.” He then changed the subject, stating, “I think that the probe is a disaster for our country... There was no collusion at all...That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily.” Continuing, “There was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign.”
Putin also admitted that he wanted President Trump to win the election, stating, “he talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal.”
President Trump’s soft rhetoric was not good for the U.S. or for relations with Russia. It completely undermined our own intelligence agencies and gave legitimacy to President Putin, a man who kills his political rivals. This was the time for Trump to back our U.S intelligence agencies with their recent gatherings. This was the time for Trump to condemn Russia’s actions —- not to agree with Putin’s lies about not meddling in the 2016 election on the world stage.
It should be noted that Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and the (as of now false) claims about Russian collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia are two separate issues and are often conflated. The Mueller investigation has not proved any evidence of Russian collusion (both Putin and Trump also denied any collusion today).
But, there is undeniable evidence of Russian Meddling in the 2016 election by hackers breaking into the DNCC and DNC servers to gather information. 12 Russian hackers were indicted by Mueller and were traced back to the Russian Government/Military.
It is foolish for President Trump to take Vladimir Putin’s side. Believing Putin’s words that no Russians hacked any servers or meddled in the 2016 election simply undermines and de-legitimizes all the work U.S. intelligence agencies have done to investigate this issue.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) could not have said it any better, stating “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.”
Keyden Smith-Herold is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Analytical, (dailyanalytical.com) a brand new publication.