Commander-in-Chief has become Winker-in-Chief when the U.S. President Donald Trump was caught in what appeared to wink at Russia President Vladimir Putin during their summit in Finland. Sitting about 2-3 feets apart, at the start of their long-awaited summit in Helsinki, both leaders locked eyes before Trump gave Putin a cheeky wink.
Putin replied with a smile and gestures before both leaders retreated to a private meeting room. The Russian supremo didn’t have to do anything to promote himself. The U.S. president did most of the heavy lifting even before the Helsinki Summit started. And just like Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore, the fact that this summit was happening at all is seen as a victory for Russia.
Trump had already blamed “U.S. foolishness and stupidity” for souring relations between Washington and Moscow. Trump tweeted on Monday – “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Prior to the closed-door meeting, Trump said that getting along with Russia would be a “good thing, not a bad thing.”
Yes, the Trump continued to blame the United States, President Bush, President Clinton, President Obama, and whatnot. At a joint briefing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said that while he had “great confidence” in the U.S. intelligence community, Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial” that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
When a reporter asked the president if he would condemn Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, Trump raised the issue of Hillary Clinton’s email server instead. He said – “I think it’s a disgrace we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 e-mails. 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.”
Apparently, Putin told Trump during the Helsinki Summit that he never meddled in the election. And Trump believed him. At the briefing, Putin called the allegations “nonsense,” and offered to allow special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators into Russia. Putin said – “The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process.”
We agree https://t.co/7l087Qwmj3
— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) 16 July 2018
It’s not hard to understand why Democrats, liberals, mainstream news media and even a number of Republicans were furious at President Trump. Three days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian nationals for interfering in a U.S. election, Trump offered Putin nothing but praise. Adding insult to the injury, Russia tweeted its agreement to Trump’s criticism of U.S.’ stupidity.
Nicholas Burns, former U.S. ambassador to NATO and the State Department’s third-ranking official under former President George W. Bush, said – “It doesn’t make any sense for the Russian Foreign Ministry to be agreeing with President Trump that we, America, we’re the problem. They are very aggressive. They have it out for us. They are not our friends. They will take advantage of early situation.”
However, its worth to point out that Trump has been tough on Russia. Sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 have not been lifted. He has also approved the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine, something which Barack Obama dared not do. And he has authorised missile strikes at Syrian military sites – openly challenging Russia.
Heck, Trump has even imposed sanctions on members of Russia’s elite and their business entities in April, after 13 Russians were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for “malicious cyber-enabled activities” in March. Following the poisoning of former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K., Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S.
But Trump haters aren’t satisfied. They were not happy about Trump’s frequent praise of Putin’s leadership. And of course, they were not impressed with Trump’s naivety in believing Putin’s denial on the topic of election meddling. Trump once told reporters aboard Air Force One – “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.”
Trump, of course, was trolling his critics and he enjoyed every moment of it. He knew the U.S. intelligence community, like defeated Hillary Clinton, does not like his administration. In fact, all the liberals in any institutions in America wanted to get rid of the U.S. president. At Helsinki, for the first time, Putin admitted that he did want Trump to win the election.
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