President Trump committed treason yesterday by embracing and defending Putin against our own law enforcement and intelligence agencies and military. It was a shocking performance that was viewed as “disgusting” even on Fox News. Here are some reactions:
CNN host Anderson Cooper: “You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader certainly that I’ve ever seen. An extraordinary press conference.”
Jonathan Swan: “I just have no words. As press in this room, we are all sitting in here speechless and stunned. Trump cast doubt over the U.S. intelligence community and endorsed Putin’s denial. Trump was given an opportunity to denounce the meddling and he didn’t; he just pivoted to lines about the missing server and Hillary’s emails. While Putin spoke forcefully, lying, Trump nodded along. There’s no way of sugar coating or spinning this. […] “I was sitting maybe 20 feet from Putin, in the second row of press gathered at the palace in Helsinki. Putin was subtly smirking throughout the conference and pumped his chest as he forcefully smacked down U.S. reporters with his lies.”
Fox Business host Neil Cavuto: “That’s what made his performance disgusting. I’m sorry its the way I feel. It’s not a right or left thing, it’s just wrong. A U.S. president on foreign soil talking to our biggest enemy, or adversary, or competitor … is essentially letting the guy get away with this and not even offering a mild criticism, that set’s us back a lot.”
NYTimes reporter Katie Rogers: “Part of me thinks that all Americans, no matter their politics, are patriotic enough, and many believe in the exceptional nature of their country enough (whether that’s right or wrong), to not take kindly to being blamed for a bad relationship with Russia by their own president.”
Meghan McCain: “I don’t have anything quippy to tweet. I’m horrified – and have never been more proud of the fact that Putin hates my father so much he personally sanctioned him on Russia’s enemies list.”
Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns: “The big takeaway from Helsinki. Trump’s weakness beside Putin. There is nothing close to this in Presidential history. President Trump sided with Putin against our intelligence community on an attack against the U.S. Dereliction of duty.”
Former FBI Director James Comey: “This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country. Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president.”
Former Secretary of State John Kerry: “I’ve been involved in public life for six decades. I have never seen an American president do or say anything remotely like what President Trump did today. No one else has, either, and everyone knows it. It is more than unfortunate; it is indefensible … this President has surrounded lock, stock and barrel to President Putin’s deceptions … This is insanity.”
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018
Dan Balz: “When the history of Donald Trump’s presidency is ultimately written, July 16, 2018, will have a special entry. On a day when the setting called for a show of strength and resolve from an American president, Trump instead offered deference, defensiveness, equivocation and weakness.”
“If anyone can recall a performance by a U.S. president that rivaled the one seen around the world Monday, let them come forward. In the meantime, Trump’s extraordinary joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin will stand on its own, for sheer shock value and for the reality of an opportunity lost.”
“One can only imagine Putin’s satisfaction at the way things have turned out.”
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) July 16, 2018
John Shattuck: “According to the law, the federal crime of treason is committed by a person ‘owing allegiance to the United States who… adheres to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort.’ Misprision (abetting) of treason is committed if a person ‘having knowledge of the commission of treason conceals and does not disclose’ the crime.”
“Today the evidence of Russian cyberattacks against the US democratic process is overwhelming… The president’s hostility to the US investigation of Russian cyberattacks, his failure to impose a cost on Russia for the attacks, his denigration of US alliances, and his eagerness to have ‘an extraordinary relationship’ with the Russian leader all point toward giving aid and comfort to an enemy.”
A senior Trump political appointee told the Daily Beast that President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin “went about as well as I expected.” Said the official: “I honestly had little to no good expectations for this.” The official added: “Trump looked incredibly weak up there. Putin looks like a champion. I’d like to say I’m shocked but this is the world in which we live now.”
One explanation for Trump’s unorthodox views on Russia: It’s what he thinks. https://t.co/DvUONk8m7k
— Vox (@voxdotcom) July 16, 2018
David Frum: “We still do not know what hold Vladimir Putin has upon President Trump, but the whole world has now witnessed the power of its grip.”
“Russia helped Donald Trump into the presidency, as Robert Mueller’s indictment vividly details. Putin, in his own voice, has confirmed that he wanted Trump elected. Standing alongside his benefactor, Trump denounced the special counsel investigating the Russian intervention in the U.S. election—and even repudiated his own intelligence appointees.”
“This is an unprecedented situation, but not an uncontemplated one. At the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, the authors of the Constitution worried a great deal about foreign potentates corrupting the American presidency.”
New York Daily News cover tomorrow cuts right to the chase pic.twitter.com/64gXM7FGhL
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 16, 2018
“Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed a question Monday about whether the Russian government holds compromising material about President Trump, offering as evidence his claim that he was not even aware of Trump’s visits to Russia as a private businessman,” the Washington Post reports.
“However, Russian government officials — including Putin’s top spokesman — knew Trump was in Moscow in November 2013 to host the Miss Universe pageant and were told about the real estate developer’s eagerness to meet with Putin while he was there.”
“Putin did not explicitly deny that Russia has compromising information about Trump or his family. Instead, heoffered a winding response about how little he knew of Trump’s travels to Russia.”
CNN: “What happened Monday in Helsinki isn’t likely to put the embers of those rumors out.”
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) July 16, 2018
Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), a former CIA officer, said on Twitter that President Trump was “getting played” by Russian president Vladimir Putin. Said Hurd: “I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands.”
Well, now we know. https://t.co/olQlhzQiuO
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 16, 2018
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) told BuzzFeed News that “something close” to the long-rumored “pee tape” exists, saying he thinks “it’s likely” that Vladimir Putin has something on President Trump.
Newt Gingrich dissatisfied with Trump clean-up attempt: "President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 16, 2018
Sen. John McCain issued an incredible statement: “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.
President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.
It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.
Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.
No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”
Chuck Schumer is calling on the GOP to demand that Trump's national security team that accompanied him to the Russia summit testify before Congress about what happened. https://t.co/j3heFaKYEj
— Axios (@axios) July 16, 2018
The U.S. government charged a Russian national heavily involved in gun rights with being a spy for the Russian government in the US and developing relationships “with US persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics,” CNN reports.
“Maria Butina, who was involved with a Russian gun group that the National Rifle Association was supportive of, was arrested on Sunday and appeared in court in Washington, DC to Monday.”
There's so much focus on what we still don't know about Trump and Russia. I want to focus on how much we do know. https://t.co/yINf0O80vw
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) July 16, 2018
James Fallows: “Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—witting, unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes—whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.”
“Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic not to realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.”
“Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both possibly true—the main question is the proportions.”
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) July 16, 2018
David Ignatius: “Putin’s elite spy world has been penetrated by U.S. intelligence. That’s the implication of the extraordinarily detailed 29-page indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers handed up by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators on Friday. The 11-count charge includes names, dates, unit assignments, the GRU’s use of ‘X-agent’ malware, its bitcoin covert funding schemes and a wealth of other tradecraft.”
“Putin must be asking himself: How did the Americans find out all these facts? What other operations have been compromised? And how much else do they know?”
Trump and Putin just colluded in public: Trump will spoil sensitive American intelligence on Russia in exchange for further illegal election meddling. https://t.co/6WLlMhhfDR
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) July 16, 2018
“Shortly before Donald Trump detonated a NATO summit, shanked the beleaguered British prime minister and prepped for a face-to-face love session with Vladimir Putin, his White House quietly divested itself of a senior official hawkish on Russia and bullish on the transatlantic military alliance,” the Daily Beast reports.
“The circumstances of retired Army Colonel Richard Hooker’s departure from the National Security Council on June 29 are in dispute. It’s not clear whether Hooker was forced out or if his detail on the NSC came to its natural end. But what’s not in doubt is that for the past 15 months, Hooker was senior director for Russia, Europe and NATO.”
Today, Trump showed how a superpower dies https://t.co/RLcogI2Gb5
— Vox (@voxdotcom) July 16, 2018
President Trump blamed US policy — not Vladimir Putin — for the dismal state of relations between the two countries, just four hours before arriving to meet with the Russian leader, CNN reports.
Said Trump on Twitter: “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 Hill reports Russia’s foreign ministry responded: “We agree.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) July 16, 2018
The Guardian: “Putin’s motorcade has arrived late at the presidential palace in Helsinki for the summit. There’s been no sign yet of Trump. He now appears to be trying to make Putin wait.”
“There’s lots of this macho stuff: Putin’s limo is slightly bigger than Trump’s.”
Andrew Roth notes Putin often keeps world leaders waiting.
Garrett Graff: “Examining the public bread crumbs of Mueller’s investigation, though, gives some indication about what’s left that we don’t know—the active and ongoing investigative work that Mueller’s team is pursuing that hasn’t seen the light of day. In broad buckets, there are at least eight significant areas of the investigation yet to be penciled in by Mueller.”
“Spoiler alert: Nearly all of these open avenues involve not only Americans, but sometimes even senior campaign, transition, and White House aides to Donald Trump.”