The increasingly incompetent, ignorant and immoral actions by the corrupt president Donald Trump in Syria finalizes his efforts to destroy America’s foreign policy and turn the nation’s back on its allies.
Until now, it was possible to hope that the damage caused by President Trump’s terrible incompetence, ignorance and impulsivity in foreign policy was largely theoretical, and possibly reparable. That is no longer true. The cost of his latest Syria blunder is unfolding before our eyes: Innocent lives lost. U.S. servicemen and -women betrayed. Butchering dictators emboldened. Dangerous terrorists set free. A ghastly scene is playing out, and it almost surely will get worse.
Mr. Trump — with no consideration, no warning, no consultation with allies, no regard for the other nations that have fought alongside the United States and risked their men and women in the fight — has turned tail. In the past two years, courageous U.S. troops cooperated with our Kurdish allies to defeat the deadly Islamic State caliphate. These allies lost more than 11,000 men and women killed; the United States, a dozen. It was a rare U.S. success in the Middle East.
The president has thrown it all away. His surrender is so hasty that U.S. forces could not execute a long-standing plan to take dozens of high-profile Islamic State detainees with them; we can expect to hear from those terrorists before long, in the region, in Europe or in the United States. The Islamic State is likely to exert its malign force again. The allies who fought alongside us are being slaughtered, and noncombatant women and children, too. Iran is strengthened, which threatens Israel. The murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is strengthened, too. Russia is taking charge. America’s adversaries could not have scripted a better outcome.
In Syria, U.S. soldiers ordered to pack up and leave calls the order “a dagger to the heart to walk away from people who shed blood for us.”
“It will go down in infamy,” an Army officer who served in the Syria campaign told David Ignatius, who covered the efforts in Syria for The Post. “This will go down as a stain on the American reputation for decades.”
“What do these American soldiers feel as they watch Trump retreat from the Syrian battlefield and leave their former comrades to die? They feel sick,” Ignatius writes.
“For these soldiers, abandoning an ally on the battlefield is about the worst thing that can happen,” he adds.
To make matters worse, the orders to pull out come from a disgraced president who allies himself with vicious dictators who are enemies of the United States.
In other words, the actions of a traitor who betrayed the Constitution, the nation and the allies who trusted us.
America today can best be described as a floundering, drowning whale.
Under the control of a debased, corrupt Donald Trump, the con man who claimed he would “make America great again,” the once land of the free and home of the brave has become the toxic swamp of a madman, wannabe dictator who plunders and loots at will.
The mentally-challenged half-child who calls others “enemies of the people” should be talking about himself.
No president in the history of this once-great nation has lied so openly, so blatantly ignored both the norms and the legalities of his office or turned the White House into a mob-central with a sole purpose of serving his ego or the wallets of his family.
And he continues to plunder and pillage under the protection of a emasculated Republican party that controls the Senate and serves his impulses with no regard for the nation it is supposed to serve.
Trump is served by equally corrupt GOP leaders like “Moscow Mitch” McConnell in the Senate . Kevin McCarthy in the House and others like supportive traitors like Lindsey Graham.
A few Republicans — too damn few — have seen the light.
Former Congressman Joe Walsh, now a long-shot primary candidate for the GOP nomination for Trump’s job, calls Trump a traitor.
“I’m running against President Trump because he’s unfit and a clear and present danger to this country,” Walsh says. “There’s no way in hell I would vote for him in November. The election is about Trump, period.”
Sadly, Walsh was not much a Congressman, just like Anthony Scaramucci wasn’t much of a White House Communications Director during his brief time on the job, but even he now considers Trump a traitor.
“The American president is a traitor to the United States. He is literally the most un-American president that we’ve had probably since Andrew Johnson,” Scaramucci said on CNN.
I would have thought that the leadership in the Congress would have broken by now, the Republican leadership in the Congress. Where is the leadership?”
Where indeed. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, now Utah’s Senator, supports the impeachment inquiry, but has not said if he supports impeachment itself. The is enough for Trump to attack Romney.
Trump calls Romney a “pompous ‘ass,’” who is “so bad for Rs.” Romney is said to be among at least 10 Republicans who are learning towards impeachment — less than half of the number needed in the Senate.
The Democratic leadership of the House is in the beginning stages of impeachment proceedings against Trump, something long overdue. Trump’s attempts to recruit the president of Ukraine to help his re-election efforts brought a formal “whistleblower” complaint started the impeachment outcry.
Involvement in Ukraine brought down former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort election and sparked the Special Counsel investigation of Russia’s involvement in helping Trump win the disputed election where challenger Hillary Clinton won the majority of the vote by a record three million ballot margin but lost in the Electoral College, where gerrymandered district overrides the wishes of voters.
Now, two Ukrainian-born clients of Trump’s equally-corrupt attorney Rudy Giuliani, were arrested as they attempted to flee the U.S. after federal investigators found they were violating campaign finance laws. Those same prosecutors are investigating Giuliani as well.
If America can be said to have a foreign policy at this debased stage of the Trump administration, it mostly consists of sucking up to strongmen while betraying everyone who ever believed in America’s putative ideals. Trump has given Turkey his blessing to assault the Syrian Kurds, America’s crucial allies against ISIS. In June, he reportedly promised China that he wouldn’t speak out in favor of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, some of whom have been carrying American flags, as long as trade talks progressed.
Here in Ukraine, a country locked in a proxy war with Russia, coping with a deluge of disinformation and propaganda and struggling to transcend a history of corruption, reformers are trying to figure out what it means when the American president sides against them.
Pro-Western reformers, the Ukrainian philosopher Volodymyr Yermolenko told me, had seen the United States as a “a perfect democracy functioning very well,” with an admirable system of checks and balances. “And now this image is crumbling and that’s very dangerous.”
Sadly, that perception is correct. America itself is crumbling and Donald John Trump is the destroyer of what once was a great nation.
Notice to all who continue to support corrupt president Donald Trump and his immoral, unethical and illegal administration: Your support shows contempt for America and makes you a traitor to your country.
The Republican Party of Trump abandoned all pretense of conservative values and patriotism when it became followers of the con artist and sexual predator who openly loots the U.S. Treasury to fatten his wallet.
“This was the week that made it glaringly clear that the president put his fragile ego, idiotic conspiracy theories and political prospects ahead of American national security interests,” adds Maureen Dowd.
Cindy McCain, widow of the late Sen. John McCain, says the Republican Party of Trump is “not the party that my husband and I belonged to.”
“Donald Trump is not a patriot,” says Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. “Again and again, he has harmed the nation’s interests to further his own.”
He lies, he chases conspiracy theories, he’s racist, he abuses power, he’s cruel. The common thread — a unified theory of Trump, if you will — is that the man who promised an “America First” agenda is instead pursuing a “Trump First” agenda. This is the Me Presidency.
Max Boot says Trump is attempting a “coup against the checks and balances of the Constitution.”
And those who help him, he adds, are the Republicans who have abandoned America all that it is supposed to represent.
The odds are that almost all will betray the country rather than the president. So here is the bitter irony: The “Republican” Party has become a threat to republican governance.
“An already unpopular president certainly cannot be given another term.” writes Jennifer Rubin. “They might even conclude Republicans who protected him have not earned their ongoing trust.”
She suggests the GOP start paying more attention to new polls.
“Keep an eye on the polling,” she adds. “Republicans surely do, and right now it is telling them that leaving Trump on the ticket makes their political survival difficult, if not impossible.”
As a one-time GOP political operative (during an ill-conceived “sabbatical” to the bark side of politics), I saw the deterioration of the Republican Party from the inside.
One could ask if the party is even worth saving? More important, however, is whether the nation should be saved.
Jeff Flake, a one-term GOP Senator who left because he could not stand Trump and probably not would not have survived his re-election effort in 2018, says his party must make the tough decision to put the nation above the questionable interests of the party that abandoned its principles.
My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles. Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection.
Our country will have more presidents. But principles, well, we get just one crack at those. For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that.
Trust me when I say you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.
Started thinking about a new column on an unhinged Donald John Trump using his lost-cause border wall to declare a “national emergency” so he can divert funds from various places without Congressional overnight or approval.
The real national emergency, I feel, is the presence of Trump in the White House.
We have a national emergency, all right. Its name is Donald Trump, and it is a force of mindless, pointless disruption.
The president’s decision to officially declare an emergency — to pretend to build an unbuildable border wall — is not only an act of constitutional vandalism. It is also an act of cowardice, a way to avoid the wrath of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the far-right commentariat.
It is an end run around Congress and, as such, constitutes a violation of his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” — which gives Congress, not the president, the authority to decide how public money is spent. It does not give Trump the right to fund projects that Congress will not approve. Authoritarian leaders do that sort of thing. The puffed-up wannabe strongman now living in the White House is giving it a try.
Gene Robinson is a great columnist and can say it far better than I. I’m sure others will join in. Donald Trump is a disaster as a president, a film-flam con artist who deserves to be in jail, not the White House.
And, be fair, let’s throw Coulter and Limbaugh into the pokey with him.
What the administration really needs to do is expand and improve facilities for processing, caring for and, when necessary, housing these asylum seekers. But Trump doesn’t care about doing the right thing, or even the necessary thing. He cares only about being able to claim he is following through on his vicious anti-immigration rhetoric, which brands Mexican would-be migrants as “rapists” and Central Americans as members of the MS-13 street gang.
Trump had two years in which Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate — and could not persuade Congress to give him funding for a wall. He decided to make it an issue only after Democrats won the power to say no. The president’s negotiating strategy — pitching tantrums, walking away from the table, venting on Twitter, provoking the longest partial government shutdown in history — was never going to work. You might think he would have learned something about how Washington works by now, but you would be wrong.
ADMITTEDLY, IT is an overworked trope. “Imagine how Republicans would have responded if Barack Obama had tried this!” Democrats exclaim at each fresh outrage. In the case of President Trump’s plan to declare an emergency to build a border wall, it is certainly apt; the Freedom Caucus (including Mick Mulvaney, now Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff) would have been apoplectic. But in considering this phony emergency conjured cynically for electoral advantage, it is more apt to imagine the future than the past.
Imagine indeed if, two years from now, a President Booker, Harris, Warren or Bennet, seizing on the Parkland massacre’s anniversary, invoked emergency powers to halt the killing of innocents — by banning the sale of semiautomatic weapons, imposing uniform background checks for gun purchases or levying a stiff federal surtax on the sale of gun parts and ammunition.
If an emergency can be manufactured over border security when illegal border crossings are near a 20-year low, as measured by Border Patrol arrests, then it’s a snap to make the case for an emergency over gun deaths, which are near a 20-year high.
Sadly, wannabe GOP leaders like McConnell walked away from their conscience and the nation a long time ago. They sold out their country for an alliance with a craven opportunist who values nothing but his own ego and whatever he can steal from American treasury and the taxpayers.
Donald Trump’s very existence is a national emergency that threatens America. He threatens our national survival. He is a traitor on so many levels.
It speaks volumes about Trump’s self-absorption that in order to win back praise from right-wing cranks at Fox News and elsewhere, he is willing to hobble his own plan, damage its future prospects and, oh yes, shred the Constitution. It’s once again all about Trump, Trump’s ego and Trump’s need for reaffirmation.
Trump, aided and abetted by McConnell, reveals himself (again) to be deeply hostile to the Constitution. His party, in the hands of Trump supplicants like McConnell, forfeits its role as defenders of the rule of law, separation of powers and limited government. If there is a silver lining, it is that Trump is helping forge an impressive alliance of Republicans, Democrats and independents who are committed to thwarting his authoritarian impulses.
Too many so-called “representatives of the people” in Washington became cowards and complicit accomplices of Trump and his corrupt, criminal cabal.
Trump is downgrading “national emergency” from something that comes with a siren for a soundtrack to just another term for cheap political expediency.
It used to be a big deal for a reputable news organization to flat out call the president a liar. Now, liar must be the most-used descriptor linked to this president. It’s also the right word. But “liar” has lost its sting, because Trump clearly doesn’t care about telling the truth. As a journalist, I’d get in more trouble if I said the president is fat — my bad, I mean plus-sized.
— so much so that it took an acclaimed Hollywood actor to put Trump into proper perspective.
Following the revelations over the weekend about Trump and Russia two powerful members of the Republican party took to the airwaves to defend their president. Here are two examples. The first one deserves some kind of award as the best meme so far in 2019.
“This is not a traditional president. He has unorthodox means but he is president of the United States. It’s pretty much up to him in terms of who he wants to read into his conversations with world leaders,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis. left in photo) said Sunday the CNN show “State of the Union.”
Breaking down this meme, “Trump is not a traditional president.” Oh, really? There has never been a president remotely like him and this is supposed to be a good thing? It beggars the imagination to think that the Chair of Homeland Security Committee actually believes this.
“He has unorthodox means.” We are asked to believe this is a good thing? Muhammad Ali was a unorthodox boxer what with his rope-a-dope, dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee, but he was The Champ. Trump is just-a-dope. Trump dances like an orange proboscis monkey (image) and stinks like a skunk.
Johnson went on to claim that if anyone conspired with the Russians it was the Democrats saying “I’ve not seen any evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia. I have seen evidence of collusion between Democrats and Russia with the Steele dossier. We still don’t have the information on that, so there are a host of questions outstanding on all sides of the issue.” This is patently absurd. The Democrats funded the Steele investigation at least in part however this is not collusion. Besides nothing in the Steele dossier has been disproven.
Meanwhile the number one House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif. right in photo) on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said “I know what the president likes to do. He likes to create a personal relationship, build that relationship, even rebuild that relationship like he does with other world leaders.”
This is how Senator Richard J. Durbin, (D, ILL) put it on ABC’s “This Week.” “Why is he so chummy with Vladimir Putin, this man who is a former K.G.B. agent, never been a friend to the United States, invaded our allies, threatens us around the world and tries his damnedest to undermine our elections?… Why is this President Trump’s best buddy? I don’t get it.” Durbin probably knows the answer to the question. It is that in some way, shape, or form Trump has sold out the United States to Russia.
Here’s how “Strobe” Talbott III, American foreign policy analyst associated with Yale University and the Brookings Institution, who served as the Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001 put it in Politico: “Whether he knows it or not, Trump is integral to Putin’s strategy to strengthen authoritarian regimes and undermine democracies around the world. This unprecedented aberration defiles what America stands for at home and abroad; it alienates and disturbs our allies; and—if it is allowed to persist—it will jeopardize our security.”
What the tainted Republicans Johnson and McCarthy and others seem to have concluded is that Trump probably did commit treason, but they don’t give a rat’s ass and they will twist logic and make excuses for him as long as it suits their purposes.
The new information about Manafort indicates Mueller has been exploring what he may have communicated to Russians while working for Trump. And it serves as a stark reminder that as Trump was offering Russia-friendly rhetoric on the campaign trail, his White House bid was led for a time by a man with long-standing ties to powerful Russian figures.
Even as he was working for the Trump campaign, Manafort continued to communicate with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian employee of his consulting business who the FBI says was linked to Russian intelligence, prosecutors said in court papers last year.
These Republicans are aiding and abetting a traitor.
The destructive illusion of Donald Trump’s presidency is running short of time as his lies, exaggerations and disproven claims drive him deeper and deeper into the toxic swamp of his life and con jobs.
Trump has been walking a tightrope of lies all his adult life, and now he is teetering. He has inflated his wealth. He has aggrandized his business acumen. He has managed to convince supporters that he is a respected businessman who brilliantly commanded a vast real estate empire. In a fanciful 2015 statement of his net worth, he claimed that his brand alone — just the name Trump — was worth $3 billion.
In reality, Trump has never come anywhere near the top rank of New York real estate developers. He ran not a huge, sprawling enterprise but a small family firm in which he and his children had direct control. He was seen as so unreliable that genuine moguls refused to have anything to do with him. When he tried to go big — risking everything on casino development in Atlantic City — he failed miserably despite his father’s efforts to bail him out. His bankers were left holding the bag, and now most major financial institutions won’t lend the Trump Organization a dime. It was Trump’s undeniable skill as a television performer on “The Apprentice” that saved him from total ruin.
Trump’s foreign policy has, however, made a break, not just with previous Republican practice, but with everything America used to stand for. Previous presidents may have made realpolitik accommodations with unsavory regimes, but we’ve never seen anything like Trump’s obvious preference for brutal despots over democratic allies, his willingness to make excuses for whatever people like Vladimir Putin or Mohammed bin Salman do, up to and including murder.
Some of this may reflect personal values: Putin, bin Salman and other strongmen are just Trump’s kind of people. But it’s hard to escape the suspicion that Moola — financial payoffs to Trump personally via the Trump Organization — plays an important role. After all, unlike leaders of democracies, dictators and absolute monarchs can direct lots of cash to Trump properties and offer the Trump family investment opportunities without having to explain their actions to pesky elected representatives.
None of this matters, of course, to the Trump faithful a small and shrinking group of hardcore conservatives, racists, misogynists and haters who are willing to swap morality for a change to eliminate abortion and sell out America for excess.
Religious leaders sold out those who believe in real faith to embrace Trump.
For the last year I have been thinking deeply about why so many of my fellow evangelical Christians support Donald Trump.
I have wondered why they backed his zero-tolerance immigration plan that separated families at the border. I have tried to make sense of why some of them give him a “mulligan” (to use Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ now famous phrase) for his alleged adulterous affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. Why did so many evangelicals remain silent, or offer tepid and qualified responses, when Trump equated white supremacists and their opponents in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer?
What kind of power does Trump hold over men and women who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ? If this is evangelicalism — I am out.
Those who support Trump contribute to his manic efforts to destroy America and the foundations of a democratic republic that has surged for more than 100 years.
When they embrace his lies, they join his immoral, illegal and hateful actions.
America’s tarnished president, Donald John Trump, has told 4,229 lies in 558 days.
Fact-checking services, which depend on truth and not hyperbole, documents Trump averages 7.6 lies a day — almost double the 4/9 lies he told at the beginning of his sordid time in the White House.
In his first year as president, he told 2,140 false or misleading claims. Now, just six months into his second year, the total is almost double, primarily because he averaged 16 lies a day in June and July.
No president in American history has lied so often, so flagrantly and so routinely as Donald John Trump.
Even worse, no leader of America has openly coddled up to and sucked up to enemies of the nation, from the unbalanced leader of North Korea to the killer dictator of Russia.
The illusion that is the presidency of Donald John Trump took another well-deserved hit with revelations that his former lawyer and fixer Micheal Cohen taped a conversation with his most controversial client discussing the payoff to a former Playboy model over an affair that Trump, of course, says never happened.
Of course, Trump also claimed he didn’t know about the $150,000 payoff from National Enquirer holding company American Media yet the recording by Cohen shows they were discussing it before the election.
Another lie, Donnie. in the 2016 presidential election, more than 3,000 more voters nationwide voted for Hillary Clinton. Polls show that no more than 40 percent of Americans out there support you so you are less than their “favorite president.”
In addition, you claim that the recording by Cohen might be illegal is another lie. In New York, only one party of a recording has to be aware of it and approve. Cohen didn’t have to tell you or get your approval.
In addition, the recording clearly shows the issue you claimed you didn’t know about was on your mind when you and Cohen discussed repaying American Media for spending their $150,000 to keep yet another story about you screwing around quiet.
This latest bit on news comes at the end of a long, bitter week for Humpty Trumpty, who fell once again with lies on top of lies in claims of what he did or did not say in a questionable meeting with enemy of America Vladimir Putin of Russia, an act that even a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, among others, calls “treasonous” and a clear “high crime” that qualifies for impeachment.
When an American president, on foreign soil, doubts the word of this nation’s intelligence professionals and casts his lot with an avowed enemy and brutal leader who assassinates his those in his country and abroad, it is easily views as the act of a traitor.
Maybe, as you claimed earlier in the week in your “left out a word” in the press conference praising Putin, you screwed up again.
Perhaps you mean to say that “your favorite traitor did everything wrong.”
Blistered by bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, President Donald Trump backed away from his public undermining of American intelligence agencies, saying he simply misspoke when he said he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
Rebuked as never before by his own party, including a stern pushback from usually reserved Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the U.S. president sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error.
“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia’” instead of “why it would,” Trump said Tuesday of the comments he had made standing alongside Vladimir Putin on the summit stage in Helsinki.
That didn’t explain why Trump, who had tweeted a half-dozen times and sat for two television interviews since the Putin news conference, waited so long to correct his remarks. And the scripted cleanup pertained only to the least defensible of his comments.
He didn’t reverse other statements in which he gave clear credence to Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial of Russian involvement, raised doubts about his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions and advanced discredited conspiracy theories about election meddling.
He also accused past American leaders, rather than Russia’s destabilizing actions in the U.S. and around the world, for the souring of relations between two countries. And he did not address his other problematic statements during a week-long Europe tour, in which he sent the NATO alliance into emergency session and assailed British Prime Minister Theresa May as she was hosting him for an official visit.
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump conceded Tuesday. But even then he made a point of adding, “It could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all.”
Moments earlier, McConnell felt the need to reassure America’s allies in Europe with whom Trump clashed during his frenzied trip last week.
With no if’s or but’s, the GOP leader declared, “The European countries are our friends, and the Russians are not.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump was trying to “squirm away” from his comments alongside Putin. “It’s 24 hours too late and in the wrong place,” he said.
By dusk, hundreds of activists, led by attorney Michael Avenatti and actress Alyssa Milano, staged a protest near the White House, with chants of “traitor!” echoing along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump still maintained that his meetings with NATO allies went well and his summit with Putin “even better.” But this reference to diplomatic success carried an edge, too, since the barrage of criticism and insults he delivered in Brussels and London was hardly well-received.
Later Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “The meeting between President Putin and myself was a great success, except in the Fake News Media!”
On Capitol Hill, top Republican leaders said they were open to slapping fresh sanctions on Russia, but they showed no sign of acting any time soon.
“Let’s be very clear, just so everybody knows: Russia did meddle with our elections,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, another steady Trump political ally. “What we intend to do is make sure they don’t get away with it again and also to help our allies.”
In the Senate, McConnell said “there’s a possibility” his chamber would act, pointing to a bipartisan measure from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to deter future Russian interference by ordering sanctions against countries if they do.
Both parties called for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials to appear before Congress and tell exactly what happened during Trump’s two-hour private session with Putin. Pompeo is to publicly testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 25.
Schumer also urged the Senate to take up legislation to boost security for U.S. elections and to revive a measure passed earlier by the Judiciary Committee to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
But minority Democrats have few tools to enforce anything.
In the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi staged a vote Tuesday in support of the intelligence committee’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. But even that largely symbolic measure was blocked party-line by Republicans.
Senators had floated a similar idea earlier, and Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona said he was preparing a bipartisan bill. But The No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said sanctions may be preferable to a nonbinding resolution that amounts to “just some messaging exercise.”
Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki was his first time sharing the international stage with a man he has described as an important U.S. competitor — but whom he has also praised a strong, effective leader.
Standing alongside Putin, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week’s federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“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.
“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said. That’s the part he corrected on Tuesday.
White House officials did not elaborate on how Trump came to issue the clarification, but administration aides described being stunned by his initial remarks Monday. GOP leaders, outraged by Trump’s comments in Helsinki, found out about his attempts to quell the outrage the same way everyone else did, as one aide put it, by watching and learning.
After his walkback, Trump said his administration would “move aggressively” to repel efforts to interfere in American elections.
“We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018,” he said. “And we have a lot of power.”
Fellow GOP politicians have generally stuck with Trump during a year and a half of turmoil, but he was assailed as seldom before as he returned from what he had hoped would be a proud summit with Putin.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul emerged as one of the president’s few defenders. He cited Trump’s experience on the receiving end of “partisan investigations.”
Back at the White House, Paul’s comments drew a presidential tweet of gratitude: “Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it!”
Follow Miller on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@ZekeJMiller and Mascaro at http://twitter.com/@LisaMascaro.
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.