We will never know what was said between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in their private summit in Helsinki on Monday. What we do know is what was said in their joint news conference. It wasn’t pretty.
Trump refused to support the findings of his own intelligence agencies that Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, he bashed the FBI, and said he accepted Putin’s denial that Russia had anything to do with election interference.
Republicans and Democrats alike reacted with horror to Trump’s remarks.
Rep. Greg Walden, in a statement issued Tuesday: “Russia’s interference in our elections and repeated attempts to subvert democracy in America must be condemned by our country’s leaders.”
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, usually an ally of the administration, said Trump “showed weakness,” and called his performance “a national embarrassment.”
On Tuesday, Trump walked back his remarks — sort of.
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” he said, but added, “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
None of the intelligence agencies support that assertion.
He said he misspoke Monday, that he meant to say he didn’t see any reason why Russia “wouldn’t” be responsible for election interference.
We don’t believe for a minute that Trump misspoke.
On Monday, Trump said the U.S. and Russia share blame for poor relations.
“I hold both countries responsible. I think the U.S. has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish.”
We see only one fool.