Donald Trump sold out America Monday in a press conference before a stunned world, shocked American leaders and saddened aides.
“One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” declared Vietnam war hero John McCain.
“Bizzare and flat-out wrong,” said Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
“Shameful,” said GOP Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.
“The Russians are not our friends,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “I’ve said that repeatedly, I say it again today. And I have complete confidence in our intelligence community and the findings that they have announced.”
“There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Notes Mark Landler of The New York Times:
President Trump made one thing clear after his meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday: He is willing to take Mr. Putin’s word over those of his own intelligence agencies about whether the Russians tried to fix the 2016 election.
Such an admission by a president sworn to be the principal defender of the Constitution and America’s sovereignty in the world is extraordinary enough. But it was only one of several statements made by Mr. Trump, the likes of which no other American president has ever uttered on foreign soil.
He condemned the Justice Department’s investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia as a “disaster for our country.” He suggested that the F.B.I. deliberately mishandled its investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee. And he labeled an F.B.I. agent who testified about that investigation before Congress as a “disgrace to our country.”
After a one on one meeting with Putin, who denied any Russian involvement in hacking servers, posting fake messages and using leaked materials to discredit Trump’s Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, Trump stood before the cameras in Helsinki and declared:
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.
Former CIA director John Brennan responded quickly:
“Donald Trump’s news 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???”
Adds McCain, a Republican stalwart fighting brain cancer:
No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.
As has become the norm among the spineless GOP that controls both houses of Congress, most Republicans sat quietly and let Trump debase America while applauding Putin.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was not quiet and said:
A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry said even more:
This is a disgraceful moment. The president’s party knows better. I know they do. I served with many of them. America needs them to speak out with clarity and conviction not just in this news cycle, but until there’s common sense governing America’s foreign policy.
McCain, in a statement from his home in Arizona, said what other Republicans have no guts to say:
It is tempting to describe the news 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.
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.
Trump’s actions Monday, called treasonous by an increasing number, even brought criticisms from his steadfast cheering section at Fox News:
Fox Business News host Neil Cavuto called Trump’s actions “disgusting. I’m sorry, it’s the only way I feel. It not a right or left thing to me, it’s just wrong.”
From Fox’s senior political analyst Brit Hume:
Because Trump is unable to see past himself, he sees the Russia meddling investigation as only about him and the collusion claim, and thus calls it a witch hunt.
CNN’s 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 than I’ve ever seen.
In Helsinki, Mr. Trump again insisted “there was no collusion” with Russia. Yet in refusing to acknowledge the plain facts about Russia’s behavior, while trashing his own country’s justice system, Mr. Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, retiring chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he “did not think this was a good moment for our country.”
There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.
What Ryan did not say was that the best way to accomplish that is to remove Donald Trump, immediately, from the presidency and charge with the ultimate high crime: Treason and punish those crimes to the full extent of the law.
If Ryan and his other compliant Republican psychopaths don’t have the guts to do what needs to be done, they should stand trial for treason along with Trump.
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