Well, President Trump has had his long awaited meeting with Russia’s President Putin. From all reports, it seem to have been a dream come true for Trump, who has raised eyebrows, long before winning the White House, with his vocal admiration for the former KGB agent.
The meeting that took place off to the side of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, was meant to be a 30 minute affair. It lingered for over 2 hours, with Trump being unwilling to part. At one point, in an effort to coax Trump from the meeting, White House officials sent in his wife, Melania, but even she was unsuccessful.
Trump has kept his comments on the meeting brief, thus far, only using the word “tremendous” to describe it.
The reports about what actually went on in the meeting, however, differ.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the only U.S. official allowed in the meeting to sit with Trump. One topic of contention is that of how the topic of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was handled.
“The two leaders agreed that this is a substantial hindrance on the ability of us to move Russian-U.S. relationships forward and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as those of other countries,” Tillerson said.
Sounds good, right?
Lawmakers wanted Trump to use his time with Putin to press him about that interference, and in over 2 hours, there should have been plenty of time.
U.S. intelligence agencies are all in agreement that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic National Committee emails and the subsequent leaks to WikiLeaks, with a clear intent to influence the election.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has a slightly different recollection of how the topic was handled.
“U.S. President Trump said that he heard firm assertions from Russian President Putin that it is not true and that Russian authorities have not meddled in the elections,” Lavrov said. “[Trump] said that he accepts these assertions. That’s it.”
Some reports are that Lavrov also said that Trump told Putin that there are some in the U.S. who have “exaggerated” the extent of Russia’s involvement.
For those wanting Trump to bring up election hack, he has: He reportedly told Putin many in US are "exaggerating" it https://t.co/b0nwUBCm2g
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) July 7, 2017
If true, it is staggering that a sitting U.S. president would go abroad, speak to the leader of a hostile foreign government, and undermine the credibility of his nation’s intelligence community.
It’s not like we haven’t had presidents go overseas to cut the legs out from under us, before.
President Obama’s first trip abroad as president was his Apology Tour, where he went from nation to nation to apologize for American exceptionalism, calling it “arrogance.”
We didn’t like it then, either. We should be particularly concerned about this, if it happened.
For now, White House officials are disputing Lavrov’s version of the conversation.
NEW: Admin official disputes FM Lavrov's assertion that Trump accepted Putin's assurances that Russia didn't meddle in US election.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 7, 2017
Let’s hope that Lavrov let his mind wander, due to the length of the meeting, and that he missed a few things.
I’d rather believe that than believe our president used his face time with the Russian president to sell out his own countrymen.