Vladimir Putin

Trump Has Helped Putin Cover Up a Crime

David Corn: “This means that Mueller’s probe could yield additional information regarding the details and breadth of the Russian campaign to intervene in the election to assist Trump. The president, who has yet to say anything in public showing he is committed to preventing Russian meddling in this year’s election, can continue to dismiss such material as ‘fake news’ produced by a ‘witch hunt.’ (According to the Washington Post, in his first year as president, Trump said the Russia probe was a Democratic hoax 44 times.)”

“Hours after Friday’s indictment, Trump issued a statement once again dismissing the Russia investigation for producing ‘outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories.’  But with this indictment—and possibly others—Mueller has demonstrated that Trump, by refusing to acknowledge fully the Russian assault of 2016, has been helping Putin cover up a crime. “

Clapper Says Putin Is Managing Trump as ‘an Asset’

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be handling President Trump like “an asset.”

Said Clapper: “I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president,” clarifying that he means this “figuratively.”

He added: “You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer, that’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”

Quote of the Day

“I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

— Former CIA Director John Brennan, quoted by the Washington Post, on not confronting Russian president Vladimir Putin over his election interference.

Trump Careens Off Message After Talking to Putin

President Trump “stayed on script for more than a week as he crisscrossed Asia — and then Russian President Vladimir Putin showed up,” Politico reports.

“After chatting with Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here, Trump abandoned the diplomatic tone the White House had carefully scripted for his five-country tour, once again contradicting the overwhelming consensus among current and former U.S. officials that the Russian leader tried to manipulate the 2016 election.”

Trump Says He Believes Putin Didn’t Interfere In Election

President Trump suggested “he’s done confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country’s election meddling since it’s insulting to the Russian leader,” CNN reports.

“Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the U.S. presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did. The fraught relations between the two leaders was underscored anew when Putin’s spokesman said election meddling did not come up when they spoke, even though Trump said it did.”

Said Trump: “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. I think he is very insulted by it.”

Putin Says Tillerson Has ‘Fallen Into Bad Company’

Russian President Vladimir Putin joked that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had veered off the path of cooperation and “fallen into bad company,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“In recent weeks, Washington and Moscow have been engaged in a diplomatic tit-for-tat. Russia has ordered the culling of 755 staff members from the U.S. State Department’s Mission in Russia. Last week, the U.S. ordered the closure of Russia’s San Francisco consulate, a move Putin said this week he would instruct his foreign ministry to take up with the U.S. legal system.”

Said Putin: “I hope that the wind of cooperation, friendship and interaction will bring him to the right course in the end.”

Putin Wanted More to Attend Meeting with Trump

New York Times: “Only six people attended the meeting itself: Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson; Mr. Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov; and two interpreters.”

“The Russians had agitated to include several more staff members in the meeting, but Mr. Trump’s team had insisted that the meeting be kept small to avoid leaks and competing accounts later, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the carefully choreographed meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity around the matter.”

Trump Is Playing Into Putin’s Hands

NBC News: “For President Trump, meeting President Putin may be a way to thumb his nose at critics — to show he’s NOT scared of the multiple investigations into his inner circle’s ties to the Kremlin. But for Russians who’ve tried to stand up to Putin, Trump is being played — has been from the start.”

Said Putin critic Garry Kasparov: “He’s definitely playing into Putin’s hands. Putin’s a dictator, and dictators by definition don’t play chess, so that’s why I believe I have to defend the integrity of my game… I would rather say he’s playing a poker game… He’s a, he’s a poker player, he’s a card player, he’s a gambler.”

Putin Watches Trump with Anticipation

Rick Klein: “In the run-up to the most anticipated meeting of Donald Trump’s presidency, the give-and-take that matters is inside the president’s head. Specifically, how much does the part of Trump that craves being liked decide to give? And how much does the part of Trump that wants to be feared and respected try to take? One can imagine Russian President Vladimir Putin’s watching the president’s news conference this morning with a kind of anticipation he hasn’t had since … Barack Obama was the new president.”

“The fact that even now – nearly six months into office – Trump still won’t accept as fact that the Russians attempted to influence the election? That gives Putin an out as big as a Red Army tank, plus a giant hint that hacking allegations are not on the U.S. president’s agenda… For now, Trump seems more inclined to slam Obama and CNN, as he did at the news conference today, than Putin.”

Trump Boxed In Ahead of Putin Meeting

“President Trump promised voters that he would strike ‘a great deal’ with Russia and its autocratic president, Vladimir Putin. He has repeatedly labeled an investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. election as ‘a hoax,’ and he even bragged to Russian officials about firing the FBI director leading the probe,” the Washington Post reports.

“Now nearly six months into his presidency, Trump is set to finally meet Putin at a summit this week in Hamburg after a stop here in Warsaw — severely constrained and facing few good options that would leave him politically unscathed.”

“If Trump attempts to loosen sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine or its interference in the 2016 U.S. election, Congress could defy him by pursuing even stronger penalties. And if he offers platitudes for Putin without addressing Russia’s election meddling, it will renew questions about whether Trump accepts the findings of his own intelligence officials that Russia intended to disrupt the democratic process on his behalf.”