SPECIAL — Posted 4:51 pm
After President Trump met with Russia’s President Putin in Helsinki, Finland, the press conference that followed boiled down to one question and Trump’s response.
The question from Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire, as transcribed by VOX.
LEMIRE: Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did.
My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin — would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?
Trump’s response, (along with my comments).
TRUMP: So, let me just say that we have two thoughts.
(YOU may “have two thoughts,” but the entire U.S. intelligence community as well as members of Congress believe only one thing: that the evidence is overwhelming that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and is continuing its cyber-war on the U.S.)
TRUMP (cont’d): You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server?
(Trump’s avoidance of a direct question is breathtaking — I’m running out of adjectives — and already adds to a laundry list of such statements, but THIS tops the list… this week.)
TRUMP (cont’d): Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the democratic national committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying?
(Trump continues to blame the FBI regarding the Clinton investigation while totally avoiding any confrontation with Putin with evidence that continues to mount regarding Russia’s involvement.)
TRUMP (cont’d): With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others and said they think it’s Russia.
(No, that’s not all you can do. As both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have repeatedly pointed out: you can call Putin to task, and show, as proof, the recent indictment by your own Department of Justice of 12 Russian military intelligence officers. In fact, Fox News’s Chris Wallace just gave a detailed copy of the indictment to Putin in an interview. You could have done the same.)
TRUMP (cont’d): I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be…
(There it is, folks, as close to a smoking gun as it gets. A U.S. president says he believes a former Russian KGB operative over his own intelligence community.)
TRUMP (cont’d): …but I really do want to see the server. But I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? 33,000 emails gone — just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.
(Trump’s constant fallback on Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and the DNC’s server is creating so much smoke, we need to call 911. Except, Republicans in Congress refuse to listen to the alarm bells! While I’ll wait for the Mueller investigation to reach its own conclusions, based on the evidence they’ve collected, I have a very sick feeling that we may, in fact, have a Russian-compromised asset in the White House.)
TRUMP (cont’d): So, I have great confidence in my intelligence people,
(No, you don’t. You just said so when you affirmed Putin’s response.)
TRUMP (cont’d): …but I will tell you that president Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
(Congressional Republicans: Are you LISTENING to this?)
Republican responses so far:
“The American people deserve the truth, & to disregard the legitimacy of our intelligence officials is a disservice to the men & women who serve this country. It’s time to wake up & face reality. #Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom.” – Congressman Adam Kinzsinger, July 16, 2018
“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.” – Sen. Jeff Flake, July 16, 2018
“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???” – Former CIA Director John O. Brennan, July 16, 2018
“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.” – Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, July 16, 2018
(“…clarify his statements”? What part of “Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” do you not understand? NEWT: Wake-up and smell the deceit!)
In a statement, Senator John McCain said it best:
“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.”
Congressional Republicans: This is NOT a partisan issue. This is a NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE. Trump can deny and dismiss all he wants, but YOU have the power to bring about change! Do your jobs! And White House staff, you’re on the hook, too.