BREAKING NEWS : Silver Alert issued for Trent D. Thomas of Fort Wayne Full Story

Warner: Trump-Putin summit should be canceled

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) calls for President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin's summit to be canceled unless other Americans are in the room during their meeting.

Posted: Jul 15, 2018 2:09 AM
Updated: Jul 15, 2018 2:21 AM

It is tough to believe that any President other than Donald Trump would hold a summit with Russia days after special counsel Robert Mueller delivered a sensational indictment that accuses the Kremlin of a deeply penetrating attack on American democracy.

It's even less probable that another commander-in-chief would take the meeting without administering a very public dressing down of Russian President Vladimir Putin before the cameras over accusations of a staggeringly broad election-meddling operation in 2016.

Yet Trump is planning to go ahead with the talks in Helsinki on Monday despite the charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers handed down by Mueller on Friday.

And if the President's own comments during his current trip to Europe or his past behavior is any guide, he will make only a ritual complaint to a leader he has often treated as a hero.

Speaking to reporters Friday before the indictment became public, Trump pledged to raise election meddling on Monday -- almost as a favor to the press -- but gave the impression that he was unlikely to do too much to challenge Putin's certain denials.

"I don't think you'll have any 'Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me,' " Trump said in Britain.

"There won't be a Perry Mason here, I don't think. But you never know what happens, right? But I will absolutely firmly ask the question."

Expectations that Trump will take on Putin publicly over the election meddling -- as French President Emmanuel Macron did when he blasted the influence of Russian propaganda outlets last year only a few weeks into his mandate -- were also undercut by the White House's reaction to the indictment.

"The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration. Why didn't they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?" Trump tweeted Saturday from his property in Scotland.

"These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years. Why didn't Obama do something about it? Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that's why," Trump continued in another Twitter post hours later. "Had nothing to do with the Trump Administration, but Fake News doesn't want to report the truth, as usual!"

On Friday, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters pointed out that there was no allegation in the document unveiled by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that any Americans knew they were corresponding with Russians or that any US citizen had committed a crime. She also said there was no indication that the conspiracy had changed the result of the election.

"Today's charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along," Walters said.

There was, however, a glaring absence of any condemnation of Russia's action by Trump, despite the fact that his job primarily involves the defense of American sovereignty and democracy.

Perhaps the administration will move in the coming days, for instance by sanctioning the GRU intelligence officers named in the indictment, who are highly unlikely to ever travel to the United States for a day in court.

But the administration's tepid initial reaction hardly heralds a showdown between Trump and Putin in Finland.

Such low expectations mean that a summit that was always going to be mysterious -- given the oddness of Trump's relationship with Putin and the suspicion of critics that he is beholden to the Russian leader in some way -- is now going to be deeply surreal.

Trump has chased summit too long to cancel it

Despite demands by critics to ditch the talks, Trump, who has chased a stand-alone meeting with Putin for months, simply has too much invested in the encounter to cancel it.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on his flight back from Mexico Friday night that Trump should proceed with the summit, saying, "I think it's very important that they meet."

"I am confident that President Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin will put America in a better place," Pompeo said.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Friday evening that the summit was on -- surprising no one.

Going against the counsel of his advisers, the President has pursued a lonely quest to improve relations with Russia, and rarely criticizes Putin, despite much of the rest of his administration adopting an authentically hard line toward Russia.

The President, who spent the last week castigating NATO allies and dividing the alliance in a way that will certainly have appealed to Putin, knew about the impending indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers before he left the United States earlier this week.

In hindsight, therefore, his comments at a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May suggest the indictment -- which comprehensively debunks claims by Trump supporters that there was no election meddling -- will do nothing to purge his suspicion of the Mueller probe.

"I think that we're being hurt very badly by the, I would call it, the witch hunt -- I would call it the rigged witch hunt," Trump said at Chequers, May's official country residence.

"I think that really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think that we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very good chance -- a very good relationship with President Putin," Trump added.

When Russia responded to Friday's indictment alleging a broad effort to hack the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee as well as some state election infrastructure, it mirrored Trump's own rhetoric in a way that is unlikely to have been a coincidence.

"Washington is struggling to reanimate old 'fake news' about alleged 'Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016,' " said a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"Obviously, the purpose of this bogus story is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit," the statement said, before adding with a Machiavellian twist that instigators of the intrigue would sooner or later be held accountable for the damage they "continue to inflict on American democracy."

Putin will presumably offer a similar approach to Trump on Monday, empathizing with his complaints that the Mueller investigation, which has now laid 191 criminal charges against 32 people and three companies, is nothing but "fake news" and a "witch hunt."

That's one reason why so many of Trump's critics are worried about the summit -- which includes a one-on-one session with only interpreters present -- going ahead.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Trump to cancel.

"Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy," the New York Democrat said.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who's a longtime Putin antagonist, said Trump should not go to Helsinki unless he is ready to show the Russian leader that "there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world."

It would not be unprecedented for a US president to cancel a summit with Putin. Barack Obama did so in 2013 after Russia granted asylum to fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The optics of going ahead with such talks in the circumstances would have been terrible.

The White House also said at the time that there was not sufficient progress in US-Russia relations to justify a summit.

The case for canceling this summit would be that it is inappropriate for the President of the United States to grant Putin the legitimacy of a meeting on such a grand stage at a time when Washington is accusing the Kremlin of an audacious assault on the integrity of a US election.

And given the evidence of the Russian assault, the idea that an American president could trust Putin is highly improbable.

"I would not have the summit," Tom Donilon, an Obama administration national security adviser, said Friday on CNN.

"The President has never really come to grips with the entire list of active hostility against the United States by the Russian Federation directed by President Putin," Donilon said. "I would not go forward with this thing,"

But former CIA Director Michael Hayden told CNN's Jake Tapper that the summit should happen -- with one big proviso.

"This is your chance, Mr. President, you have got a document beyond speculation. ... Here we have got solid, detailed forensic evidence that the President can make use of.

"As a citizen now, I would say let's do it and then I want to watch what the President does."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36578

Reported Deaths: 2258
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10188604
Lake3876207
Allen181071
Cass15919
Elkhart158528
St. Joseph135838
Hendricks120478
Hamilton119194
Johnson1125113
Madison60061
Porter56233
Clark53942
Bartholomew53139
LaPorte44824
Howard44236
Tippecanoe4344
Jackson4012
Delaware39741
Shelby39722
Hancock35427
Boone32436
Floyd31941
Vanderburgh2913
Morgan28626
Noble27821
Montgomery24917
Clinton2471
White2399
Decatur23132
Grant22923
Dubois2113
Kosciusko2052
Harrison19622
Marshall1872
Henry18512
Vigo1828
Greene17226
Dearborn17122
Monroe17113
Lawrence17124
Warrick16729
Miami1461
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
LaGrange1282
Scott1263
Franklin1168
Ripley1086
Daviess10416
Carroll952
Wayne906
Steuben902
Wabash812
Newton8010
Fayette797
Jasper741
Jay580
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Fulton511
Washington501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb451
Starke423
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Wells350
Owen341
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford250
Adams231
Switzerland220
Spencer221
Fountain222
Gibson202
Parke180
Posey160
Martin140
Warren131
Ohio130
Vermillion100
Union100
Pike60
Unassigned0180

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37758

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin6323295
Cuyahoga4789265
Hamilton2811171
Marion268832
Lucas2329263
Pickaway209938
Summit1529181
Mahoning1486191
Butler97532
Columbiana89453
Stark803102
Montgomery73417
Lorain73061
Trumbull60052
Belmont44915
Warren40721
Medina37624
Tuscarawas3714
Ashtabula36938
Miami36730
Delaware36014
Portage33557
Lake32512
Clark3237
Fairfield3188
Wood30649
Geauga30334
Wayne29651
Licking27110
Mercer2278
Richland2224
Allen22133
Clermont2195
Darke19023
Erie18416
Madison1647
Washington11819
Crawford1184
Morrow1081
Ottawa10717
Greene1065
Putnam9514
Sandusky9112
Monroe8015
Auglaize773
Hardin730
Ross732
Hocking705
Jefferson672
Huron611
Williams581
Holmes573
Union561
Muskingum561
Hancock531
Coshocton480
Wyandot482
Clinton471
Shelby473
Fulton450
Logan430
Fayette410
Preble391
Guernsey382
Carroll353
Defiance342
Brown311
Lawrence301
Highland291
Champaign281
Seneca262
Knox251
Ashland230
Vinton212
Perry191
Athens181
Scioto180
Henry170
Jackson150
Paulding140
Adams111
Harrison100
Pike90
Gallia81
Van Wert70
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Huntington
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Van Wert
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Sunny & Pleasant Weekend
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events