At the end of a tense and controversial NATO summit in Brussels President Donald Trump held an informal news conference with international reporters and spoke about his upcoming summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In response to questions, Trump said he will raise the issue of Russian interference in United States’ elections during the meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.
“I think we go into that meeting not looking for so much. We want to find out about Syria. We will of course ask your favorite question about election meddling. I will be asking that question again,” Trump said at the unexpected news conference.
Trump said Putin would probably deny meddling in the 2016 election when they meet.
“What am I going to do? He may deny it,” Trump said. “All I can say is ‘Did you?’ and ‘Don’t do it again.’ ”
“Trump says he will ask Putin about election meddling during their summit, but notes “he may deny it”: “All I can do is say, ‘Did you?’ and ‘Don’t do it again’
Trump says he will ask Putin about election meddling during their summit, but notes "he may deny it": "All I can do is say, 'Did you?' and 'Don't do it again'" https://t.co/tb582IMJ4K https://t.co/NWJ4khUlQ1
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 12, 2018
At the Brussels NATO summit Trump had been criticized for his cozy relationship with Putin while he was attacking U.S. allies like Germany, demanding that they increase their spending on their military. He joked that after the NATO summit and upcoming meetings in the “hotspot” of the United Kingdom, meeting Putin may be the easiest part of his current trip.
“It’s not a question of friend or enemy. He’s not my enemy. And hopefully someday maybe he’ll be a friend,” Trump said of Putin, saying first that he is a “competitor.”
“Is he a friend now? No, I don’t know him well enough. But the couple of times that I’ve gotten to meet him, we got along well… I hope we get along well.”
Last year at a G20 summit in Germany Trump reportedly accepted Putin’s claim that he did not meddle in the 2016 election to help him.
Since all of the American intelligence community has concluded that Russia and Putin did in fact meddle in American elections — and probably will do so again in 2018 — Trump’s comments were widely criticized and ridiculed.
Trump has harshly criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed last year to look into the alleged Russian interference as well as potential collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign.
Even though Mueller has indicted dozens of suspects, including 13 people involved in a Russian “troll farm,” Trump has repeatedly asserted that the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt.”
It clearly is not a witch hunt since in addition to the many indictments Mueller has also obtained guilty pleas from such Trump campaign staff as Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos.
What concerns Americans — and the world community — is that Donald Trump once again has expressed his willingness to believe the words of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent who is known for his trickery and deception.
With Donald Trump as president, the United States is not safe, and that is why we need a new president as soon as possible.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.