Anderson Cooper: Trump performance disgraceful

After a joint news conference with President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, CNN's Anderson Cooper called Trump's performance "disgraceful."

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 1:16 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 1:37 PM

Since the Second World War -- spanning 14 US presidents, Republican and Democratic -- the occupant of the Oval Office has been referred to as "the leader of the free world." Until now.

And though, on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence stated after the Helsinki summit that President Donald Trump "stands without apology as leader of the free world," his words could not be further from the truth.

Over his 18 months in office, Trump has surrendered that mantle without a mandate to do so. Trump's impulse is to echo Russian President Vladimir Putin's talking points and advance his agenda, even as elements of his administration attempt to push back to protect longstanding American interests.

Time and again the world has witnessed what journalist Luke Harding describes in his book "Collusion" as Trump's "weirdly deferential behavior toward Putin -- his singular reluctance to criticize, his boundless willingness to appease, his desire for face time."

This past week offered new lows in this shameful dance on the world stage, capped by what Anderson Cooper diagnosed as a "disgraceful" performance at Helsinki, in which Trump was more critical of Democrats and his own Justice Department than of Putin or Russia.

In the days before his largely unsupervised chat with Putin in Helsinki, Trump attacked our NATO allies at a Belgian summit, suggesting the US could "go our own way." He nonsensically blamed President Barack Obama for Russia's invasion of Crimea, insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, undercut embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit and described the European Union as a "foe" of the United States.

After his own Justice Department indicted 12 more Russian agents for interfering in his favor in the 2016 election, Trump again attacked the investigation as a "rigged witch hunt" and blamed American "foolishness and stupidity" for our bad relationship with Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted with cold approval: "We agree."

This litany of insults is surreal and not a little bit sinister. But we can't say we weren't warned. After all, the 2017 US Intelligence Assessment on Russian activities and intentions in the 2016 elections made it clear that "the Kremlin sought to advance its longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, the promotion of which Putin and other senior Russian leaders view as a threat to Russia and Putin's regime."

This Russian desire has been met with unexpected ardor from the American President.

This love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name was again apparent at the press conference after the Helsinki meeting, when Trump went off-teleprompter to echo his post-Charlottesville script, declaring "both countries accountable" for US-Russia tensions and again denied the validity of the Mueller investigation, calling it baseless and "ridiculous."

Trump took the unprecedented step of taking the word of an autocratic leader of a hostile foreign power over his own Director of National Intelligence, stating that he did not see "any reason why it would be" Russia who hacked the DNC servers. This was music to Putin's ears, who grinned like a cat digesting a canary, while stating, "we have to be guided by facts and not by rumors."

The most innocent explanation for Trump's determined outbursts -- and his disconnect from broader bipartisan American policy interests -- is that he has isolationist instincts and admires authoritarian leaders. But that marks something much more dangerous than simply a disruption of the status quo.

Some might ask whether Trump's imagined new world order really represents a threat to American values. Only if you believe in individual rights, civil liberties and the strength of multi-lateral liberal democratic coalitions as a bulwark against ethno-nationalist autocracy.

Amid all the upheaval, it's worth remembering that Trump won the election with just under 78,000 votes in three states -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. It is unlikely that those voters were betting on an abandonment of American values in favor Russian interests.

What is equally stunning is the spinelessness of Republican leaders in standing up for the principles their party has stood for from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan to both George Bushes. This is not a president who cares about advancing a "freedom agenda."

Senate Republicans willing to stand up to the President's worst instincts are an endangered species: John McCain is battling brain cancer; Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are not running for re-election; Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio are willing to pipe up when the insults to the Reagan Legacy are particularly egregious and only Ben Sasse is a consistent Senate critic from a rising generation.

Many others recognize the danger, but are unwilling to take on their base by criticizing the President in public. Whatever short-term political expediency they gain will represent a lasting stain on their name.

Helsinki will be remembered, in the words of John King, as "the surrender summit." The defining fight of our time will be to defend diverse liberal democracy at home and abroad -- and we will have to do it without the help of this American President.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
LaPorte89430
Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
Floyd77246
Monroe74630
Delaware71452
Dubois68712
Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
Vigo61910
Jackson5855
Warrick57930
LaGrange55710
Shelby54627
Grant52630
Dearborn49628
Morgan46734
Clinton4303
Henry37620
Wayne36810
White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
Daviess26420
Greene24634
Franklin24114
Jasper2342
DeKalb2304
Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
Fayette1867
Carroll1852
Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
Huntington1223
Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
Sullivan1131
Adams962
Jay910
Owen871
Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 99969

Reported Deaths: 3668
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18182523
Cuyahoga13414499
Hamilton9583255
Lucas5288323
Montgomery431894
Summit3523222
Marion292245
Butler289163
Mahoning2532255
Pickaway238342
Stark1813139
Warren176739
Lorain173678
Columbiana165660
Trumbull1518106
Fairfield136732
Delaware129219
Licking126049
Clark114214
Lake111138
Wood103058
Clermont92111
Medina91435
Miami83238
Tuscarawas78114
Portage75461
Allen73244
Greene68412
Belmont62126
Mercer60513
Richland60012
Erie57027
Ashtabula56246
Geauga55444
Wayne52958
Ross4684
Huron3955
Darke39329
Ottawa37726
Sandusky37316
Hancock3723
Athens3561
Madison35510
Holmes3276
Lawrence2790
Auglaize2506
Union2461
Muskingum2251
Jefferson2242
Scioto2241
Putnam20517
Seneca2043
Knox2037
Washington20222
Preble2012
Coshocton1926
Shelby1904
Crawford1745
Champaign1732
Morrow1682
Hardin16412
Clinton1626
Highland1561
Logan1522
Fulton1471
Wyandot1458
Ashland1433
Defiance1424
Williams1343
Brown1272
Perry1233
Guernsey1167
Henry1162
Hocking1169
Fayette1120
Carroll1115
Monroe9118
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding670
Gallia651
Adams592
Meigs380
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan250
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 64°
Huntington
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
63° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 63°
Van Wert
63° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 63°
Sunny, Seasonable Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events