The Russian Ministry of Defense states that Trump agreed the other day to upgrade mil-to-mil relations. Or maybe Trump promised that Russian officials could interrogate human rights activists and other Westerners against whom Putin holds grudges. Maybe we’ll extradite former Ambassador Mike McFaul to Moscow.
President Donald Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was an unequivocal embarrassment for the United States. Most galling was President Trump’s assertion of moral equivalency between the conduct of the mafia-state Putin has cultivated over decades and America’s past foreign policy mistakes. When pressed on why U.S.-Russia relations had deteriorated despite attempts at prior diplomatic resets, Trump responded “I hold both countries responsible. I think the U.S. has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it “disgraceful”; Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he was “saddened” and “disappointed.” Mostly, however, Republican members of Congress reacted to President Donald Trump’s performance beside Vladimir Putin in Helsinki with silence.
Will Russia’s broad range of nefarious cyber activities be addressed at Monday’s summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin? That’s one of the big questions surrounding the summit. National Security Advisor John Bolton affirmed that Russian interference operations and cyber attacks would be on the agenda, and Trump reaffirmed this during press conferences in Europe, but speculationcontinues due to the conflicting statements that election interference occurred.
Donald Trump has been consistent in his desire to make a “deal” with Vladimir Putin since he first began campaigning for president and in his conviction that, unlike his predecessors, he can pull off a successful reset with Russia. For the past eighteen months, the various “Russiagate” investigations—and the skepticism of his secretaries of state and defense and his National Security Advisors—have constrained his ability to pursue his agenda with Russia. But, fresh from what he views as a successful summit with Kim Jong-un, his determination to meet with Putin for a bilateral summit has prevailed. They will meet in Helsinki on July 16.