President Trump really doesn’t care about what you think.
One would think that after a year and a half of a presidency under the cloud of an investigation into collusion with a country that every one of our intelligence agencies says actively interfered with our electoral process — and, many believe, tipped the election in his favor — that the president would be attempting to put as much distance between himself and the Kremlin as possible.
Every move that Trump has made towards Russia, however, has just increased the suspicions that he is squarely in Vladimir Putin’s pocket.
The delay in implementing the sanctions that Congress overwhelmingly approved against Russia after the suspicious poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in London; the insistence that the G7 readmit Russia to the group of international leaders; the secretive phone calls to Putin; the acceptance of Putin’s claim not to have interfered in the election; the undermining of the NATO alliance; all of these actions have only granted credibility to the idea that the Kremlin has more kompromat on Trump than Special Counsel Robert Mueller could ever dream of finding.
Trump’s announcement of a summit meeting with Putin later this month in Helsinki, Finland only added fuel to the raging fire. Even more damning was the news reported by CNN that initially at least the meeting will be a one-on-one conclave with no aides present to overhear the conversation or take notes on what is being said.
CNN cites some officials as being worried that Putin, a former master spy and a canny negotiator, could take advantage of the man who considers himself a “stable genius” and extract concessions from Trump on sanctions or other issues such as the recognition of Russia’s claim to Crimea.
Last week Trump gave reporters on Air Force One a preview of the planned conversation with Putin.
“I’ll talk to him about everything,” Trump said. “We’re going to talk about Ukraine, we’re going to be talking about Syria, we’ll be talking about elections. And we don’t want anybody tampering with elections. We’ll be talking about world events. We’ll be talking about peace. Maybe we talk about saving billions of dollars on weapons, and maybe we don’t.”
Whatever is on the agenda, as long as Trump and his campaign are under investigation for collusion with the Kremlin (and of obstructing justice in the investigation), any meeting with Putin will be regarded with great suspicion and the potential to be interpreted as the agent returning to his supervisor to get further instructions in carrying out their planned mission — particularly when there is no one else in the room to hear what they are actually saying to each other.
Trump warned during the campaign of the dangers of electing a president who would be under constant investigation from the beginning of their term in office, saying it would create “an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis”. He was referring to Hillary Clinton, of course, but as his own presidency plays out, it appears as if it was the one time that Donald Trump actually spoke the truth.
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