“Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A., I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them.” – Republican Congressman Will Hurd

It’s been a few days now since Donald Trump had his private one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin, and we’ve still heard next to nothing from the administration as to what was discussed, let alone agreed to, during that two hours and ten minutes. Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters in Moscow that “important verbal agreements” were reached at the meeting, but Trump has yet to confirm or deny the existence of any such agreements. And this, as you might imagine, has a great many people concerned, and wondering if perhaps they’d been too quick to dismiss as inconceivable the possibility that the Russians may have some sort of leverage over our President. After all, not only did Trump demand on a private, one-on-one meeting with the the ruthless dictator who ordered the hacking of our election, but he’s not even telling members of his own administration what was agreed to behind closed doors. What’s more, since his return, he’s been aggressively pushing things that are in-line with Putin’s agenda, like going on Fox News last night and questioning whether or not the United States should come to the defense of Montenegro if hostilities intensified between the small democracy and Russia. [This, by the way, would be a violation of Article 5, the mutual defense pledge that NATO is built upon.]

We have reason to believe, based on things that have been said over the past several days, especially by the Russians, that the Trump and Putin discussed a number of items of importance to the Kremlin, like the rolling back of sanctions, nuclear proliferation to Syria and Ukraine, the status of Montenegro, and Putin’s desire to interrogate the former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul. And, understandably, members of Congress are worried… so much so, in fact, that an attempt was made not he part of Democrats this morning to subpoena the translator who accompanied Donald Trump to the closed-door meeting. [As you can imagine, it’s not exactly sitting well with some that our President was contemplating the possibility of turning over American citizens to a ruthless dictator for questioning.]

Here’s Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff on the motion to subpoena the interpreter… a motion which the Republicans in Congress promptly killed.

If you’d like to know more, I’d suggest checking out the New Yorker piece titled, “No Way to Run a Superpower”: The Trump-Putin Summit and the Death of American Foreign Policy, which does a pretty good job of getting to the heart of just how strange and dangerous all of this is. Here’s an excerpt.

In the days since the Monday meeting in Helsinki, there’s been an understandable frenzy over President Trump’s post-summit press conference, given that he sided with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, over his own intelligence agencies on the subject of Russia’s 2016 election interference, ranted about his Electoral College victory, blamed the United States for bad relations with Russia, and called the special prosecutor investigating his alleged collusion a “disgrace to our country” as a smirking Putin looked on. But the real scandal of Helsinki may be only just emerging.

On Thursday, Putin gave a public address to Russian diplomats in which he claimed that specific “useful agreements” were reached with Trump in their one-on-one meeting at the summit, a private meeting that Trump himself insisted on. Putin’s announcement came a day after his Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said that Trump had made “important verbal agreements” with Putin on arms control and other matters. The Russians, Antonov said, were ready to get moving on implementing them. The White House, meanwhile, has said nothing about what the two men may have agreed to in private, although Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he and Putin had discussed everything from nuclear proliferation to Syria, Ukraine, and trade, and that he looked forward to a second meeting with the Russian President soon, to follow up. On Thursday afternoon, the White House confirmed that Trump plans to invite Putin to Washington in the fall for another summit.

Days after the Helsinki summit, Trump’s advisers have offered no information—literally zero—about any such agreements. His own government apparently remains unaware of any deals that Trump made with Putin, or any plans for a second meeting, and public briefings from the State Department and Pentagon have offered no elaboration except to make clear that they are embarrassingly uninformed days after the summit.

Unlike Putin, Trump did not brief his own diplomats on the Helsinki meeting…

The question is, what do we do about it… How do we respond when our President, who in all likelihood has been compromised by a foreign government, is compelled to go off and do things that play right into the hands of our adversaries? The good news is, some in Congress appear to be treating the problem seriously. And, here’s an example. The following comes from a New York Times op-ed by Texas Congressman Will Hurd, a former C.I.A. officer.

Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A., I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them.

The president’s failure to defend the United States intelligence community’s unanimous conclusions of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and condemn Russian covert counterinfluence campaigns and his standing idle on the world stage while a Russian dictator spouted lies confused many but should concern all Americans. By playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands, the leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad.

As a member of Congress, a coequal branch of government designed by our founders to provide checks and balances on the executive branch, I believe that lawmakers must fulfill our oversight duty as well as keep the American people informed of the current danger…

For what it’s worth, I should add that Hurd, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, has consistently voted with Devin Nunes in the past, as the latter has attempted to stymie and discredit the Mueller investigation. Furthermore, Hurd voted against the proposal by Adam Schiff earlier today to subpoena the translator. So, while he’s saying the right things in the New York Times, he still seems unwilling to do anything about it.

I should also add that all of this discussion is happening in the wake of last night’s bombshell that Donald Trump was shown definitive evidence two weeks before his inauguration that Putin himself had ordered the hacking of our election… meaning, of course, that every time he’s suggested since then that another country could have been responsible, or that he’d decided to give Putin the benefit of the doubt, he knew full well that the attack not only originated in Russia, but did so at the behest of Putin. So, every time he cast doubt on the intelligence community assessment that Russia was involved, he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Putin had given the order… begging the question, “Why?”

Oh, and Donald Trump says he’s inviting Putin to the come the White House this fall for a second summit. This, by the way, was news to Trump’s own Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, who was informed of the invitation while on stage in Aspen, discussing national security.

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24 Comments

  1. Rebecca Ballhaus from the WSJ
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Rebecca Ballhaus from the WSJ:

    A top commander of U.S. military operations in Syria said he has gotten “no new guidance” about the Trump-Putin summit in the days since. Typically, the White House would brief national-security officials after such a meeting or provide a written memo.

  2. Stolen from Social Media
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    An explanation for everything Trump is doing: Given what Putin has on Trump, he has dramatically upped the pressure to embrace him and do his bidding. Putin is effectively the president of the United States at this moment.

  3. John Brown
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The president is treasonous. And a whole bunch of well armed ‘mericans are glad Russia installed him. We may have to fight and die to restore the rule of law. The other side has religious fervor and dont fear death. We must have the same level of conviction for preserving Democracy for all of humanity. Libs, get over your intellectual paralysis and commit to winning this fight now.

  4. Iron Lung
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    The best way to deal with a sociopath is to be nice to them.

    Said no one, ever.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Russia announces new nuclear weapons tests after Trump-Putin summit

    http://hill.cm/wwcuRDp

  6. Media Matters
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Sean Hannity guest theorizes that Russians were “hired, owned and paid by the DNC to hack themselves”

    https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/07/19/hannity-guest-theorizes-russians-were-hired-owned-and-paid-dnc-hack-themselves/220739

  7. XXX
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    This might cheer you up. It’s from former NSA officer John Schindler.

    “It’s simple, really: Trump ended his presidency in Helsinki. It’s over except for the tears. You can feel it. So can the terrified GOP. All that’s left now is Mueller taking out the Kremlin-y trash. Which won’t be easy, but can’t be stopped now either.”

    https://twitter.com/20committee/status/1020044819668914176

  8. M
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    The Senate just had to pass a resolution making it clear that Congress would object to any U.S. ambassador or official, past or present, being made available for questioning by Putin’s government. This is not normal.

  9. Iron Lung
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    When has that ever happened?

    Make America Weak Again.

  10. wobblie
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Cold War-Hot War pick your brew. But under no circumstances can there be detente with Russia. Does anyone here think that a defense budget of 1000 Billion is any where near enough. All on board for the austerity express for National Security.

  11. Bartelby
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I’ll guess the odds that Trump and Putin were discussing returning Alaska to Russia at about 20%. The Ruskies did “own” it at one time and the sale price did seem like there were a few zeros missing.

    I’m sure Palin would be thrilled to claim dual citizenship.

  12. wobblie
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    While we all get hot and bothered by Putin, one of the true owners of our Government declared officially for apartheid yesterday. Only mention in the USMSM is an article in the New York Times. Not a word of protest from our Government–and of course given the current ownership why would there be?

  13. Iron Lung
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    In the true Mr. Wobblie “whataboutism” fashion, the world is not allowed to be alarmed about issue A because there is issue B , but then there is issue C so we really can’t be alarmed about that either and because this person wasn”t alarmed about this, then we can”t be alarmed about anything at all.

    Mr. Wobblie’s response is akin to the right wingers who constantly ask “when will the Muslim world stand up and speak out against 9/11” ignoring the people who already have.

    I mean, isn”t it possible to be alarmed by BOTH our Presidents coddling of Vladimir Putin and Israel”s absurd resolution declaring it an ethnic state?

    In Mr. Wobblie’s world, we can only pick one issue, namely the one of his choosing, which often doesn’t have anything to do with repressive dictatorships.

  14. Anonymous
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of Schindler, he’s got a tread in response to the “well, everybody does it” argument that is worth looking at.

    https://twitter.com/20committee/status/1020362363453755393?s=21

  15. Iron Lung
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    The “everybody does it” line is equally as offensive as the “what about X” lines the people present.

    It is like people are still in kindergarten.

  16. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t read Wobblie that way. But hey, I am probably not as perceptive as someone who beleives he perceives things that are not even there.

  17. Jean Henry
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    FF can’t stop talking about how he is not an apologist for racist white nationalists. It reminds me of a friend who kept telling me constantly how happy she was in her marriage and then got divorced. You doth protest too much.

    Also noted that IL strikes you as delusional but not HW. Not a word about HW, indeed lots of indulgence.

    Your double standard is showing again Mr Flakes. Quick! cover up!

  18. EOS
    Posted July 21, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Jean,

    Cut with the Saul Alinsky tactics. They are not effective and they do more to drive people away from your position than anything else. You and IL constantly accuse persons of reprehensible traits without any rational reason to do so, and then use their denial as proof that your unfounded accusations have some weight.

    Just like Whoopi Goldberg, you continuously exhibit all the signs indicative of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Have you noticed that no one is standing up to defend Whoopi for going apeshit over Judge Jeanine’s book? She was an invited guest, and Whoopi shouted over her and did not let her speak. The left, which was once a beacon of tolerance and free speech, now thinks tolerance only applies to the views they agree with and free speech means attack and silence the speech of those you disagree with.

    Please keep it up, as there is nothing the right can do that would be more effective at driving voters to our causes.

  19. John Brown
    Posted July 21, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    EOS, it’s called Treasonous Douchebag Syndrome, and it’s your GOP that’s suffering. We hope you recover before it’s irreversible. At which point the sufferer must be put down. Crazy judge lady, and you, are accomplices to treason if you haven’t denounced the Ruskie Stooge.

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 21, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    What you said does not ring true, Jean.

    I think IL’s interpretation and twisting of Wobblies words and intent is more garbage. Garbage you like to try to defend for some reason.

    Just watched “won’t you be my neighbor”. I think Fred would say you and IL have “special imaginations”.

  21. Iron lung
    Posted July 21, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Lol

    I think mr. Wobblie will live.

  22. Iron lung
    Posted July 21, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I am completely on board with Mr Wobblies alarm over Israel calling itself a Jewish state and downgrading arabic as an official language and the official silence of the current administration over it.

    I however do not share his disregard for Russia as a threat to world stability. I also do not think that the actions of the US in any way render russias actions irrelevant.

  23. Jean Henry
    Posted July 22, 2018 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    EOS— it amuses me that you feel inclined to lecture me on how to engage people on this blog. Even those who disagree with me and find me a self righteous wind bag aren’t going to be aligning with your positions anytime soon. There’s zero political risk or benefit to my commentary here. I do it for my own edification. I’m uninterested in swaying anyone. Annoying right wing zealots is just a bonus.

  24. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 22, 2018 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Of course Wobblie will be fine. Why wouldn’t Wobblie be fine? How is criticizing you, for the things you say, the equivalent of defending a person? This often repeated notion makes no sense to me.

    You just said: Wobblie has a “disregard for the threat Russia poses”. I doubt Wobblie would define his stance in the simplistic terms you have assigned to him.

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