World Analysis: Trump’s news conference with Putin was everything Putin could have dreamed

20:51  16 july  2018
20:51  16 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

Trump can’t beat Putin at his own game

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Analysis | Trump ’ s news conference with Putin was everything Putin could have dreamed the fix, aaron blake, trump russia, trump putin , trump putin news

President Trump ’ s news conference with Russia’s Putin , annotated. QUESTION: For President Putin , if I could follow up as well, why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence

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There were no shortage of critics of President Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which came just days after Trump's own government indicted 12 Russians for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election, no less.

The meeting was just about everything those critics feared it would be.

Standing alongside Putin, Trump not only downplayed if not doubted Russia's 2016 actions, but  regularly volunteered defenses for Putin and repeatedly blamed both sides for the strained relationship. Trump has danced around the idea that Russia didn't interfere in the 2016 election, regularly hinting at it without saying it outright. Friday erased all pretenses.

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Trump began the news conference by asserting that Russo-American relations have been worse than ever before, “but that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.” Asked whether he blamed Russia for that strained relationship, Trump immediately reverted to the kind of both-sides rhetoric he employed after a white supremacist allegedly killed a counterprotester in Charlottesville last year — and also previously when asked about Putin killing political opponents (“You think our country's so innocent?” Trump said last year).

“Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible,” Trump said. “I think the United States has been foolish. … I think we’re all to blame.”

When a reporter asked Putin about Russian election interference in 2016, Trump actually volunteered to answer the first part of the reporter's question, practically offering his own defenses of Putin.

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When Trump was again asked about Russian interference and whether he had told Putin to never do it again, he ignored the question and riffed for a couple minutes on a conspiracy theory about why the Democratic National Committee didn't turn over its server to federal authorities. The hack of the DNC was at the center of the 12 indictments handed down by Robert S. Mueller III on Friday, and Trump expressed significantly more concern about this piece of evidence than the actual alleged wrongdoing.

Indeed, Trump's first impulse when asked about Russian interference was instantly and repeatedly to shift blame and to insert reasons to doubt the findings and objectivity of his own government. He cited Peter Strzok again. He suggested for the umpteenth time that he can't do anything to force Putin's hand: “All I can do is ask the question.” He stood by as Putin denied interfering an any U.S. affairs — a position Trump's entire government regards as a lie. He called Mueller's probe a “witch hunt” right before ending the news conference.

Putin  even seemed to troll Trump. With Trump standing next to him, Putin attacked  his regular American antagonist, Bill Browder, for his ties to Democrats. Those ties to Democrats, you might recall, were part of the package of information that was being offered to Trump's campaign at the Trump Tower meeting with a Putin-aligned lawyer. Even as Putin was denying  meddling, he brought up something that recalls perhaps the most ignominious collusion-related event of the 2016 campaign.

Republicans have largely shrugged off Trump's flirtation with Russia before. It's easy to dismiss it as Trump liking strongmen and/or being sore about the idea that he didn't win the 2016 election on his own merits. He's a prideful man.

But Friday was the clearest indication to date that Trump has basically no appetite for holding Putin responsible. Even insofar as the Mueller investigation is holding Russia responsible for what happened in the 2016 election — and not Trump's own campaign — Trump dismisses the entire thing as a witch hunt.

People like the idea of diplomacy and even talking to dictators such as Putin. But the downside of these summits is that they can lend legitimacy to your enemies and even allow them to use you for propaganda wins.

Trump handed Putin the propaganda win we all suspected might be coming: He sided with Russia over his own government, repeatedly and with the whole world watching. Putin probably can't believe his luck.

Trump's Two Hours Alone With Putin Still Rattling Washington .
President Donald Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin continues to unsettle lawmakers and foreign policy experts, who also gave the thumbs-down to a possible follow-up meeting at the White House. “We need to know everything, and the president’s national security team needs to know everything” about the leaders’ two-hour meeting in Helsinki on July 16, Susan Rice, national security adviser to President Barack Obama, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.Rice said it was an “historic mistake” to allow Trump -- or any U.S. president -- to sit down with Putin without note-takers or aides present in the room.

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