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.

Confirmed Cases: 52685

Reported Deaths: 2775
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12192697
Lake5764251
Elkhart372061
Allen2988135
St. Joseph223570
Hamilton1779101
Cass16519
Hendricks1482100
Johnson1366118
Porter86738
Vanderburgh8586
Tippecanoe79510
Clark72844
Madison68564
LaPorte63928
Howard61758
Bartholomew60945
Kosciusko5874
Marshall57412
Noble52628
Boone49744
LaGrange49110
Delaware48452
Jackson4813
Hancock47236
Shelby46225
Floyd42544
Monroe37528
Dubois3447
Morgan34431
Grant33426
Henry30618
Montgomery29720
Clinton2913
White28110
Warrick27929
Dearborn27723
Vigo2638
Decatur25732
Lawrence25325
Harrison22022
Greene20032
Miami1972
Jennings18012
Putnam1758
DeKalb1714
Scott1669
Wayne1656
Perry16010
Daviess15117
Jasper1422
Orange14023
Steuben1403
Ripley1357
Gibson1332
Franklin1288
Wabash1203
Carroll1142
Starke1103
Fayette1087
Whitley1086
Newton10110
Huntington932
Jefferson932
Wells841
Randolph814
Fulton791
Knox730
Jay720
Posey680
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay655
Rush633
Spencer621
Owen541
Sullivan541
Benton510
Adams491
Brown461
Blackford412
Fountain382
Tipton361
Crawford350
Switzerland320
Parke280
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren161
Pike150
Union150
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67995

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin12574449
Cuyahoga9509400
Hamilton7179208
Lucas3110306
Marion275739
Montgomery264737
Summit2420209
Pickaway223542
Mahoning1996239
Butler194247
Columbiana140560
Stark1252116
Lorain120870
Trumbull107178
Warren106827
Clark83210
Delaware78415
Fairfield75117
Lake64322
Tuscarawas62811
Licking61913
Medina61432
Belmont57224
Clermont5327
Miami52031
Wood51551
Portage50760
Ashtabula45244
Geauga43643
Richland3926
Allen39141
Greene3809
Wayne37856
Erie30822
Mercer30410
Holmes2645
Huron2643
Darke26126
Madison2309
Ottawa21924
Athens2011
Sandusky18015
Coshocton1554
Ross1543
Washington14920
Putnam14615
Crawford1405
Jefferson1322
Morrow1291
Hardin12512
Union1191
Auglaize1124
Muskingum1061
Preble961
Lawrence930
Clinton922
Hancock921
Monroe8917
Hocking848
Guernsey834
Scioto800
Ashland782
Shelby784
Williams772
Logan731
Carroll713
Fulton710
Wyandot665
Brown621
Champaign601
Knox591
Fayette580
Highland581
Defiance563
Perry501
Van Wert501
Seneca432
Henry380
Paulding350
Jackson320
Pike290
Adams282
Vinton232
Gallia211
Noble140
Harrison131
Meigs130
Morgan130
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 82°
Angola
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 75°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 80°
Decatur
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Van Wert
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 75°
Scattered Storms Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events