This Tuesday, the meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin took place. It came much anticipation from the entire political world to see the event unfold, since the leaders would discuss relevant topics, such as trade, foreign policy and possibly the allegations of collusion between the governments. The meeting came only a couple of days after the Justice Department indicted twelve Russian agents with accusations of having hacked U.S. technology during the 2016 elections.
Before entering the meeting, President Trump mentioned to the press the topics that would be in the agenda. Among them were Trump’s current trade wars and both countries’ nuclear arsenals. He also mentioned that they would touch on China and its president Xi Jinping.
In a press conference after the talks, Trump was asked to address the current climate between the two countries. Surprisingly, he bluntly blamed the U.S. for the current conflicts, and tried to not hold Russia responsible for any of the blame. Before the meeting, he had tweeted: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” The statements were seen as exaggerated and bold, ignoring the Cuban missile crisis and the Korean and Vietnam wars. He also seemed to ignore the recent Crimea annexation or its support for rebels in Ukraine and the Syrian government.
He stated that, after the talks with the president, the relationship between the two is now “just fine”. When asked whether he would blame Russia at all for the political tensions, he mentioned that he did blame them, yet didn’t specify why or how. He stated that both countries had been “foolish”, yet quickly moved the conversation towards reassuring that he didn’t collude with Russia during his campaign. He said:
That was a clean campaign , I beat Hilary Clinton easily and we frankly beat her. We won that race and it’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it. The main thing and we discussed this also: zero collusion. There was no collusion. I didn’t know the president, there was nobody to collude with.”
Putin also seemed to dodge the question, as he stated that he and Trump don’t necessarily trust each other and that they were only working in benefit of their countries, each representing their government. They also both stated that the meeting would mark the beginning of a new “era of cooperation” between the countries, with Putin stating that working with Syria would be a good starting point. However, this does not seem likely to happen, since Russia supports the current regimen of president al-Assad and the U.S. supports the Syrian opposition.
Trump was asked yet again about possibly colluding with Russian agencies, this time questioning whether he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian government. He refused to answer the question directly, yet invited his agencies to work with Russian intelligence to “get at the bottom” of the problem. He also used the opportunity to address the Democrats’ “misbehavior” during the election campaign.
Not only did Trump not show support for U.S. intelligence agencies, but he also put into question their findings during the 2016 elections. He stated: “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.” He also mentioned that he “[doesn’t] see a reason why” Russia may have interfered with his elections. The recent indictment of possible Russian hackers shows a gap of disagreement between the president and his administration.
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