Cooper: Trump sided with a near-dictator

CNN's Anderson Cooper reacts to President Donald Trump's comments at his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 8:30 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 8:51 PM

For the second summer in a row, President Trump stood in front of the press and demonstrated that he doesn't actually know what makes America great. The sounds of shocked gasps were audible from sea to shining sea on Monday as the US President stood next to Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki and rebuked the US intelligence community in a breathtaking few minutes of political history.

The President's remarks were so stunning that there were even voices on Fox News who had to admit how badly Trump had performed (though some, like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, still found ways to praise him).

It would have been one thing had the President remained silent in front of Putin about the massive evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, or if he had only briefly acknowledged the situation so that he could move on to other issues. But President Trump made a very different decision.

He deliberately decided to offer favorable words about Putin and Russia, while casting doubt on those in the United States who have been raising the alarms about the very real threat that now exists to our electoral process.

On Tuesday, the President gave a half-hearted apology in which he explained that he misspoke when he said, "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia that interfered in the election. Still, this didn't explain away the rest of his comments or his repeated tweets on this subject.

The threat to our election system is a direct strike against one of the best ongoing gifts from the US Constitution. Though the original system was far from perfect, previous generations have fought hard to expand the right to vote and to strengthen the process, from the direct election of senators to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to make sure that the greatest possible portion of our electorate would be able to enjoy his fundamental right. Our elections have been essential to distinguishing our country from autocracies, dictatorships, and monarchies where democratic power has been checked or stifled.

When seven intelligence groups -- the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee -- agree that Russia interfered in the election, government leaders have a very serious problem on their hands. This is not a talking point to be debated nor is it partisan rhetoric to be refuted. It is a political crisis that needs to be addressed immediately.

But from day one of his administration, culminating with yesterday's press conference, President Trump has refused to do what is necessary to protect the integrity of our elections. He has repeatedly praised Putin, despite warnings from his intelligence community of the threat that Russia poses.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has, in fact, recently warned that the "warning lights are blinking red again" regarding Russian cyberattacks. Trump has done little to ensure that the same problem won't occur again. His strongest words have been reserved for praising the leader of the country that was responsible for the problem.

Still refraining from directly calling President Trump out for his actions, former President Obama came pretty close to doing so during a speech in South Africa to honor the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth, when he said: "I am not being alarmist, I'm simply stating the facts. Look around -- strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, where those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning."

The refusal to take our cherished election system seriously comes almost one year after the horror in Charlottesville, when the President engaged in the same sort of failure to appropriately place blame during a press conference following the white supremacist rally that resulted in a brutal death.

Standing in Trump Tower in New York City, the President shocked the world when he refused to come down hard against the demonstrators and what they represented. As in Helsinki, the President didn't understand or didn't care why his refusal to take a strong stand was also essential to demonstrate a genuine commitment to American exceptionalism.

The marchers in Charlottesville represented values that were fundamentally antithetical to the best part of nation's character -- pluralism. The vitality of this country has been built on the fact that so many different cultures, ethnicities and races co-exist within our borders. We are a nation of immigrants, we are a nation made up of different races, we are a nation shaped by the many, not the few.

The term "melting pot" has been used to connote this essential part of our character. Though there have been important debates about the need to preserve multiple cultural identities within the whole, there has been growing support over the last century that our heterogeneity is a great virtue. This was why the white nationalist rage on the streets of Charlottesville was so disturbing to large parts of the country. Just nine years after the country elected its first African-American President, a historic milestone of progress, President Trump was unwilling to firmly condemn the voices in this country that rejected this idea.

Today the pundits are debating whether the President's comments were "treasonous." Regardless of how that debate is settled, what should become clear is that his actions were unpatriotic.

Making matters worse, the press conference was not some kind of anomaly. Trump's attacks on voting rights, his support of hardline anti-immigration policies, his hostility toward the alliances of democracies in Europe, all point to the same worldview that proved so disturbing yesterday.

Without free elections and a pluralistic society, there is no way that the United States can actually be great. And on both of these measures, President Trump has been standing on the wrong side of history.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 578494

Reported Deaths: 9202
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion798821282
Lake43601664
Allen31380537
Hamilton27675303
St. Joseph26409369
Elkhart23873336
Vanderburgh18192211
Tippecanoe16999116
Porter14183158
Johnson14120277
Hendricks13560236
Madison10312209
Vigo10297171
Clark9952128
Monroe8933105
Delaware8638129
LaPorte8589153
Kosciusko777375
Howard7712136
Warrick624990
Hancock621995
Bartholomew616094
Floyd5971105
Wayne5811155
Grant5716108
Dubois533570
Boone523167
Morgan501485
Marshall487084
Henry483262
Cass464959
Noble453956
Dearborn443343
Jackson410145
Shelby394376
Lawrence374172
Clinton359838
Gibson348556
DeKalb333063
Montgomery329150
Knox323339
Harrison317242
Miami305043
Steuben300740
Adams291635
Ripley287145
Wabash286345
Whitley286324
Huntington278757
Putnam278046
Jasper274933
White262038
Daviess255671
Jefferson242738
Fayette239248
Decatur237382
Greene229259
Posey225626
Wells225146
LaGrange222061
Scott212837
Clay212432
Randolph204940
Jennings188635
Sullivan185831
Spencer176917
Fountain175125
Washington170216
Starke169241
Jay160521
Fulton156829
Owen155536
Carroll150115
Orange146333
Rush145618
Vermillion141633
Perry141327
Franklin139333
Parke12718
Tipton126232
Pike111325
Blackford105122
Pulaski93636
Newton87820
Brown84428
Benton83010
Crawford7229
Martin68013
Warren6427
Switzerland6035
Union6033
Ohio4547
Unassigned0372

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 807293

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin95508704
Cuyahoga80262964
Hamilton59783436
Montgomery40858396
Summit32488697
Lucas29495575
Butler29100225
Stark24048388
Warren18471135
Lorain17563207
Mahoning16430334
Lake14941134
Clermont14703103
Delaware1349574
Licking12353132
Trumbull12096297
Fairfield1184280
Greene11338132
Medina10815164
Clark10334261
Wood9742153
Allen9355126
Miami867373
Portage8628104
Richland8604111
Marion7231112
Tuscarawas6987172
Columbiana6922124
Pickaway689050
Wayne6599162
Muskingum648939
Erie5729117
Hancock529088
Ross518287
Scioto508753
Geauga469955
Darke450589
Ashtabula431467
Union422327
Mercer419485
Lawrence417051
Sandusky413262
Auglaize407059
Shelby404621
Seneca404354
Huron399738
Jefferson391565
Belmont378140
Putnam359370
Washington357039
Athens35469
Madison331128
Knox329022
Ashland322538
Fulton319043
Defiance311476
Crawford306769
Preble306434
Brown289617
Logan284828
Ottawa275534
Clinton272741
Williams265757
Highland255618
Jackson250743
Guernsey234625
Champaign233727
Fayette218929
Morrow21754
Holmes215562
Perry215317
Henry206147
Hardin200932
Coshocton194517
Van Wert193744
Wyandot186948
Gallia186226
Adams160815
Pike160116
Hocking157423
Carroll143216
Paulding137521
Noble116138
Meigs99021
Monroe93827
Harrison8428
Morgan75826
Vinton64013
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 25°
Angola
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 25°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 24°
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 25°
Lima
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 30°
Cloudy Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events