Trump dodges question on Russian interference

President Donald Trump declines to say whether he agrees with US intelligence agencies' assessments that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, instead choosing to attack Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 12:41 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 1:02 PM

How much longer can the foreign policy leaders in President Donald Trump's Cabinet stick by this President?

The Helsinki, Finland, summit will surely go down as one of the worst-ever presidential performances on the international stage. Not since President John F. Kennedy was thoroughly intimidated when he met with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna, Austria, in 1961 has an American president been so completely and artfully outflanked by his Russian counterpart.

At a press conference in Helsinki standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, instead of endorsing the unanimous finding of US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, Trump observed that Putin was "extremely strong and powerful in his denial."

Well, that settles it then! We will always take the word of Putin, a former longtime KGB official whose actions around the world have run counter to American interests, against those of America's key intelligence agencies.

For good measure, Trump dumped on his own country, "I think that the United States has been foolish. We've all been foolish. We're all to blame." Really? In fact, as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has painstakingly revealed, the ones to blame are a small coterie of officers in Russia's military intelligence agency GRU, acting no doubt under the orders of Putin.

Surely Trump's performance in Helsinki must have the members of his war Cabinet asking themselves: How can I continue serving in this administration? After all, these are serious public servants, much of whose lives have been bound up in countering first the Soviet threat and now the Russian threat.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis enlisted in the Marine Corps in the late 1960s when he was 18 and when the Cold War was at its height.

During his confirmation hearings to become defense secretary, Mattis described the Russians as the number one threat to the United States and opined that Putin was seeking to break up the NATO alliance.

In the Pentagon's defense strategy released in January, Mattis again described Russia as a key threat.

This was a similar conclusion to that of the national security strategy review overseen by now-departed national security adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster that was released in December.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's first assignment as an Army officer was patrolling the border between West Germany and East Germany as the Cold War wound down.

At his confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Pompeo said, "Russia continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy toward that aggression."

In May, Pompeo said the United States has a "great deal more work to do" to safeguard the November midterm elections from outside interference.

Dan Coats, who oversees the 17 American intelligence agencies, testified in March that Russia "is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive [cyber] attacks, with the intent of degrading our Democratic values and weakening our alliances."

After Trump's bizarre press conference on Monday, Coats' office released a statement pushing back on the President's bromance with Putin, saying, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy. ..."

In the past Trump's current national security adviser, John Bolton, has called Putin a "liar" and Russia's election-meddling in 2016 an "act of war." Bolton has moderated his tone on Russia of late, but clearly, he is naturally a skeptic of Putin and his works.

So, we are now in the bizarre place where the Trump administration seems to have two sets of policies about Russia. There is the policy of the administration, which has taken a fairly hard line on Russia, for instance, expelling 60 Russian diplomats in March after Russia's attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom with a nerve agent.

Then there is the policy of the President, who continues to embrace Putin and to deny the assessments of his own intelligence agencies. How long is this really sustainable for the members of Trump's war Cabinet? Or put another way, at what point should it no longer be tolerable?

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
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Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
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Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
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Steuben501768
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Wells389884
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Posey362341
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Washington334747
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Starke282864
Fulton280454
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Jay257038
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Rush237030
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Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
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Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1390015

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1541781574
Cuyahoga1361632341
Hamilton989691326
Montgomery681371161
Summit569981051
Lucas51769869
Butler48139663
Stark42350983
Lorain32165539
Warren30497338
Mahoning27564643
Clermont26081297
Lake24873422
Delaware22600147
Licking20818246
Fairfield20789223
Greene20667275
Trumbull20378516
Medina20178290
Clark18235332
Richland16749236
Portage16442231
Wood15973209
Allen14405261
Miami14063261
Muskingum12976155
Wayne12234244
Columbiana12046242
Tuscarawas11248271
Marion10935150
Pickaway10642129
Scioto10585127
Erie9888171
Ross9648177
Lawrence8967125
Hancock8637143
Ashtabula8509187
Geauga8272156
Belmont8262188
Jefferson7736175
Huron7566131
Union743951
Washington7396126
Athens712065
Sandusky6984135
Darke6884137
Knox6839122
Seneca6533137
Ashland6078115
Auglaize596888
Shelby5845104
Brown578272
Mercer565890
Crawford5591117
Defiance5579101
Madison552171
Highland550982
Fulton543583
Clinton535781
Logan520587
Preble5123111
Putnam4909107
Guernsey487664
Williams469982
Perry464454
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Ottawa443584
Jackson436663
Pike400745
Morrow398251
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Fayette385053
Adams371575
Hardin367570
Gallia356658
Holmes3326111
Henry331869
Van Wert321471
Hocking312370
Wyandot286058
Carroll267052
Paulding247443
Meigs223042
Monroe193149
Noble174442
Morgan170329
Harrison161741
Vinton141919
Unassigned05
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