A recent meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump ended with a scene which most Americans never thought they would see: a U.S. president siding with a Russian leader rather than U.S. intelligence agencies.
a post-meeting press conference where the leaders were asked about future U.S.-Russia relations.
During a post-meeting press conference, Trump was asked if he believes U.S. agencies’ evidence of collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, or Putin, who has denied said accusations. Trump didn’t give a clear answer, instead choosing to dodge the question and speak about alleged misbehavior from Democrats in 2016.
However, Trump was not able to maintain this approach for long, as he ended up stating:
“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.”
The last half of his statement demonstrated to analysts and politicians across the world Trump’s priorities regarding foreign relations.
Trump also blamed the U.S. and its intelligence agencies for poor relations with Russia, not specifying that have both countries damaged relations.
Trump’s statements caused an immediate backlash from both the press and the Republican party. Senators and U.S. officials were quick to express their discomfort, with some even saying that this was “the most serious mistake of [Trump’s] presidency.” The label “traitor” has been heavily discussed by analysts, and some have called Trump’s actions “dangerous” and “weak.”
Members of Congress members have yet to take actions against the president. As some Democrats pointed out weeks ago, the president may be unfit to choose a candidate for the Supreme Court, and Brett Kavanaugh’s ideals make matters even worse. Considering performance in Russia, giving Trump the opportunity to partake in such a crucial political procedure seems dangerous, as he may be quite biased. Congress has not discussed whether this matter will cause for hearings or increased oversight of the president’s actions.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer was one of the first politicians to speak up. He called for more sanctions towards Russia, for increased defense of American intelligence, and for the Trump administration’s national security team to testify before Congress. Schumer concluded his demands by stating:
In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin. A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? … The only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.”
Even Republicans who have always been reluctant to criticize Trump publicly are doing so now. Majority leader Mitch McConnel, who has protected Trump against every single scandal, stated:
“The Russians are not our friends. I’ve said that repeatedly, I say it again today. And I have complete confidence in our intelligence community and the findings that they have announced.”
The climate leading up to the meeting between the two leaders wasn’t favorable either, as the meeting came only a few days after the Justice Department indicted twelve Russian agents with accusations of having hacked U.S. technology during the 2016 elections. This indictment shows that U.S. intelligence agencies are far from finished with their current Russia investigation.