In the wake of Monday's meeting a few weeks ago between President Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, the United States Intelligence community was left scratching their heads in bewilderment after what Fox News host Neil Cavuto called a "disgusting" summit performance by the president. In the days leading up to the summit, many were eager to hear what the two leaders would have to say about the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. That eagerness turned into shock and disappointment as Trump showed no signs of holding Russia solely responsible for interfering in our affairs.
When asked about Russian meddling Trump insisted, "I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think that we've all been foolish," going on to say, "I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be, but I really want to see the server, but, I have confidence in both parties." Whether it was the Russian state or independent saboteurs, the intelligence community has come outright and said there was foreign meddling, and Russia is responsible. For President Trump to blatantly brush these reports to the side by grouping the United States at fault, this is a backhanded slap to US intelligence agencies and to the country as a whole.
So what does this mean?
Let's set the record straight. It is not inherently bad to want to improve relations with the Russians. However, we most certainly cannot align ourselves with the Russian state in a manner of friendship, and we certainly shouldn't be the ones extending our arms as Trump did. We are dealing with a foreign president that is under suspicion of having opponents and critics killed. A state that blatantly enforces laws that do not align with the way of our land in any way of the matter, ruled by a tyrant that can't be trusted, was not even given a slap on the wrist at the summit in Finland.
Trump had a chance to look strong in Helsinki and condemn the interference that seven US intelligence agencies have stated Russia is responsible for, and he would've been praised for it. Despite Trump being known to call the election investigation led by Robert Mueller a "witch hunt" if he had looked Putin in the eye and made clear this would never happen again, he would not be getting the kind of reaction that both parties have given. Instead, fervent denial showcased Trump's willingness to throw his own Intelligence services under the bus. Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave.
We can all agree on something
With all the contention between Republicans and Democrats and with bipartisanship dissipating before our eyes, this is something the parties should be coming together on. Trump receives constant pressure from the Democratic side of the table, and in this instance, Republicans should be showing their teeth to the president as well. It would do the president well to be given an earful by his advisors over his comments at Helsinki. He has grown more than accustomed to his opposers applying fire to his term, but receiving it from his own party will hopefully deter his eagerness to play nice with the Russians.
To undermine our own intelligence services while standing alongside the leader of a country who has been our most paramount adversary for the last half-century, is far from a good PR look for US-Russian relations. Expect ripples in the Republican party to develop in the next several days, as this will certainly cause more than a little blowback within the party. Either way, Republicans and Democrats can mutually agree, this was a bad look for President Trump and the United States of America.