In Helsinki, President Donald Trump damaged his administration and harmed his own foreign-policy objectives. His press conference with Vladimir Putin is further deranging America’s political life.
Just as he did after the Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump demonstrated his almost bottomless credulity when he praised as an “incredible offer” Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that U.S. investigators come to Russia and work with Russian investigators to discover the truth about America’s election in 2016. Putin offered this as a trade in which Russian investigators get to work in the U.S., though Trump didn’t treat it that way.
And again, just as with North Korea, the conciliatory rhetoric from Trump will be belied by the operations of the executive branch, the positioning of the U.S. military, and our nation’s intelligence agencies. Trump’s gifts tend to be little more than rhetorical. Trump did not lift the sanctions on North Korea. Trump has not pulled the U.S. out of NATO. He has not lifted Russian sanctions. In fact, it was Putin today who advertised the adamantine American line on Crimea, saying that Trump’s position is clear; the Russian annexation was a crime.