Trump Calls Media ‘Real Enemy of the People’ While Revealing ‘Second Meeting’ With Putin

Amid widespread blowback this week over his comments relating to the summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump is declaring the meeting a success, and going on the warpath against the media — which he’s labeling “the real enemy of the people.”

In a Thursday morning tweet, the president suggested that another meeting is forthcoming.

“The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” Trump wrote. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems…but they can ALL be solved!”

The president then tweeted a montage which aired on Fox & Friendsearlier of times in which he’s acknowledged Russia meddled in the 2016 election. (Although he also left open the possibility of China and other nations or individuals also meddling.)

Trump is floating the possibility of a second meeting just as initial polling has been released on the first. According to a poll from Axios and SurveyMonkey, 79 percent of Republicans approve of the president’s handling of the summit. Overall, however, the public disapproved of Trump’s handling by a 58-40 margin.

[Mediaite]

Trump somehow still doesn’t understand NATO

Just a week after rattling NATO countriesin Europe, President Donald Trump once again put America’s commitment to the alliance in doubt on Tuesday night.

In an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Trump equivocated on whether the US would come to a NATO ally’s defense if attacked, called the people from Montenegro “very aggressive,” and worried aloud that protecting Montenegro might unleash a third world war.

There were two key parts of the exchange. Here’s the first:

CARLSON: NATO was created chiefly to prevent the Russians from invading Western Europe. I don’t think you believe Western Europe’s at risk of being invaded by Russia right now, so what is the purpose of NATO right now?

TRUMP: Well, that was the purpose, and it’s okay. It’s fine, but they have to pay.

And here’s the second:

CARLSON: Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member who has been attacked. So let’s say Montenegro, which joined last year, is attacked: Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack? Why is that?

TRUMP: I understand what you’re saying. I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people.

CARLSON: Yeah, I’m not against it — or Albania.

TRUMP: No, by the way, they have very strong people — they have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. Now I understand that — but that’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago. But I took over the conversation three or four days ago and said, “You have to pay.”

Carlson’s questions were entirely fair ones to ask (more on that in a minute). But Trump’s responses were deeply disturbing. Here’s why.

Trump didn’t steadfastly commit to NATO’s collective defense — again

At the heart of the NATO military alliance is a provision known as Article 5. That says that an attack on one NATO country is to be considered an attack on all the countries — and therefore that all the member countries are obligated to come to the defense of whoever is attacked.

This is why NATO allies — yes, including Montenegro — are fighting alongside the US in Afghanistan to this day. The US invoked Article 5 after 9/11, and NATO countries kept their promise and came to America’s aid.

And, to use Tucker Carlson’s example, if a country were to attack Montenegro — which became a NATO ally in June 2017under Trump’s watch — the US would be treaty-bound to defend it.

But Trump made it pretty clear that he’s not wild about that fact, and only begrudgingly said he’d go along with it as long as they pay their fair share of defense spending — an issue he brought up over and over again at the NATO summit in Brussels last week.

This isn’t the first time Trump has done this, either. In May 2017, he refused to commit the US to Article 5 during a meeting with NATO allies. But two weeks later, he reversed course, saying in impromptu remarks that the US would abide by the provision.

Trump did seem to endorse NATO as a whole during Carlson’s interview when he said the alliance’s original purpose is still “okay.” Still, Trump’s outward skepticism about NATO worries many.

“His rhetoric has unsettled allies, empowered Russia, and undermined Alliance solidarity,” Amanda Sloat, a European security expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told me.

Trump still doesn’t get how NATO works

Trump said that if Montenegro got aggressive with another country, presumably Russia, then World War III would break out because the US would be obligated to defend it, thus dragging the US into a major war with Russia.

What Trump misses is that the US doesn’t have to defend Montenegro if that country starts a fight, only if it’s attacked. NATO is a defensive treaty. If you start an unprovoked war, that’s your decision, and no one in NATO has to help you at all.

So even if Montenegrins were, as Trump said, “very aggressive people” — whatever the hell that means — the US wouldn’t have to lift a finger to help them.

The fact that Trump doesn’t seem to understand that is beyond disturbing. If this were his first day in office, maybe it would be understandable. But it’s not. Trump has been in office for a year and a half. He’s met with NATO allies as a group not once but twice — including spending two days straight talking to them just a week ago.

There is no reason why he shouldn’t have that down pat at this point.

Carlson’s line of questioning was totally fair. It’s Trump’s responses that are the problem.

Debates about NATO’s usefulness have raged for decades, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union, as have concerns about NATO’s expansion over the years to include more and more countries. (Here’s a really smart Twitter thread on that if you’re interested.)

It’s certainly reasonable to ask the sitting US president to explain why America’s sons and daughters should be obligated to fight to protect Montenegro, or why the US should risk a potential nuclear war with Russia to defend Estonia.

It’s Trump’s responses to this question that are concerning here. Instead of laying out the case for NATO being in America’s national security interest (and there is a case to be made on that), Trump makes it clear that he doesn’t actually get why the hell NATO matters at all.

If you’re a NATO ally wondering whether the US president will have your back if shit goes down, that’s not the most reassuring thing to hear.

[Vox]

White House: Trump will consider letting Russia question investor, former ambassador

President Donald Trump will consider allowing Russian investigators to question U.S.-born investor Bill Browder, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others after President Vladimir Putin floated the idea, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.

“He said it was an interesting idea. He didn’t commit to anything,” Sanders said at the daily press briefing. “He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process…It was an idea they threw out.”

Later in the day, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the concept “absolutely absurd.”

“The fact that they want to question 11 American citizens, and the assertions that the Russian government is making about those American citizens — we do not stand by those assertions,” Nauert said.

In a joint press conference with Trump Monday, Putin proposed that the U.S. allow Russian officials to interview Americans in exchange for Russia allowing U.S. officials to interview Russians, such as the 12 people recently indicted for their role in hacking Democratic computer systems in 2016.

“This kind of effort should be a mutual one,” Putin said Monday. “We would expect that the Americans would reciprocate.”

The idea was “an incredible offer,” Trump said.

The Russian leader mentioned Browder, whom, he said, “we have an interest of questioning” over tax issues. Browder has been at odds with the Kremlin for years, including because of his advocacy for efforts to sanction Russians suspected of committing human rights violations.

On Tuesday, the Russian Prosecutor General’s office released a wishlist of potential people to extradite, including members of the State and Homeland Security departments and members of the CIA. McFaul, a former ambassador who had strained relations with the Kremlin and has since said he was banned from traveling to Russia, was also included.

“I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin,” McFaul tweeted Wednesday. “Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”

It would be an extraordinary step to allow Russian investigators access to current or former U.S. officials. Browder, though born in the U.S., is now a British citizen, so it is unclear how a deal involving him would work.

[Politico]

Trump Bashes Media for Russia Coverage: Press Didn’t Cover My Private Meeting

President Donald Trump sat down for an interview with CBS News’ Jeff Glor at the end of whirlwind tour of Europe that culminated in the widely panned press conference with Vladimir Putin — and trashed the media for its coverage of his summit with the Russian autocrat.

After declaring “I think I did great at the news conference,” Trump embarked on a rambling anti-press diatribe:

“I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I think we did extremely well. I think the press makes up — look it’s fake news that people understand. I think the press largely makes up a lot of the fuss about a lot of things. And I’m not talking about one of it I’m talking about everything, it’s crazy. You do something that’s positive, and they try and make it as negative as possible.”

Trump went on to say that “some of the most honorable people I know, some great people are reporters, journalists etc.,” before adding “but the level of dishonesty in your profession is extremely high.”

Glor pointed out that the press simply covered the statements Trump made in his televised press conference with Putin.

Trump dismissed that point, arguing that the press should have covered his private one-on-one meeting with Putin.

“They didn’t cover my meeting, the important thing frankly was the meeting,” Trump said.

[Mediaite]

Trump, When Asked if Russia is Still Targeting America: ‘No’

President Donald Trump seems to be walking back his walk back with regard to his comments on Russian meddling in the 2016 election in his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

As the president held a meeting with cabinet officials at the White House today, reporters asked him if Russia is still targeting America. Trump’s answer: “No.”

He continued:

“There has been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not there. Look at unfortunately that what happened in Syria recently. I think President Putin knows that better than everybody, certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it, and he’s not happy about it. He shouldn’t be happy about it because there’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.”

This directly contradicts what DNI chief Dan Coats said on Monday: that the intelligence community stands by its assessment that Russians meddled with the 2016 election and have “ongoing pervasive efforts” to try and undermine American democracy.

[Mediaite]

Trump: ‘People at the higher ends of intelligence loved’ my performance

President Trump said in an early morning tweet on Wednesday that “people at the higher ends of intelligence loved” his press conference performance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was widely condemned.

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” he said. “Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”

[The Hill]

Trump says he accepts US intel on Russia — then adds it ‘could be other people also’

President Trump on Tuesday sought to walk back his widely-criticized remarks at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier, saying he accepts the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

But Trump muddled the walk-back by saying that “other people” also could have been involved, a statement similar to remarks he’s made in the past casting doubt on Russia’s involvement.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, reading from a prepared statement in front of reporters at the White House.

But he added: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

Trump also claimed he misspoke on election meddling during his meeting with Putin, saying he meant to say that he sees no reason why Russia would not be responsible.

The president said the exact opposite on Monday: “I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump said Tuesday he should have said, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.”

“It should have been obvious,” he added. “So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things.”

In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity after the summit, Trump did not indicate he misspoke.

The president’s latest comments come as he is facing intense pressure from Republicans and Democrats who blasted his refusal to confront Putin over election meddling.

Trump had previously shown no sign he was willing to clarify or take back his comments.

The president tweeted Tuesday morning that his meeting with the Russian leader was “even better” than his summit with NATO allies.

Lawmakers and U.S. allies have said Trump’s performance during his press conference with Putin undercut U.S. officials and provided a propaganda victory for the Russian leader.

The president said he has “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies,” even as he repeated his claim that “there is no collusion” between his campaign and Russia to interfere in the election, a matter that is still under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

[The Hill]

Media

President Trump blames media for criticism over Putin news conference

The day after his ill-fated news conference with Vladimir Putin drew criticism even from supporters, a defiant President Donald Trump said Tuesday he had a great meeting with the Russian leader and blamed the news media for the poor reception.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted after returning from a weeklong trip to Europe. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”

Having watched the president’s performance, lawmakers across the ideological spectrum criticized Trump for taking Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence officials who report that Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Like Trump, the critics showed no signs of backing down.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said he was glad to see criticism from both parties. A day after saying that Putin probably celebrated the Trump meeting with caviar, Corker called for legislation to counter some of the president’s foreign policy moves, including tariffs on imports.

“As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allies and further strengthens Putin,” Corker tweeted. “It is time for Congress to step up and take back our authorities.”

During his morning tweet session, Trump also defended the Putin news conference by citing the thoughts of a rare supporter who stuck up for him: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

“Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it!” Trump tweeted, citing a comment by the Kentucky senator that “the President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations – what’s he supposed think?”

Paul was one of the few Republicans to defend the president after he accepted Putin’s denials that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, despite the conclusions of U.S. intelligence officials that Russians hacked Democratic officials and pushed fake news to help Trump.

While taking Putin’s side, Trump also condemned the ongoing investigation of Russia as a “disaster” driving a wedge between the United States and Russia.

[USA Today]

Trump defends Russia and NATO meetings with lies after mass outrage

Here’s President Trump’s defense for his NATO and Russia meetings that resulted in pushback for his demands to European allies as well as concerns over his behavior in a press conference with Putin:

“I had a great meeting with NATO. They have paid $33 Billion more and will pay hundreds of Billions of Dollars more in the future, only because of me. NATO was weak, but now it is strong again (bad for Russia). The media only says I was rude to leaders, never mentions the money! … While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy

— Trump on Twitter

  • Trump’s argument, which he first explained in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last night, is that making NATO stronger monetarily hurts Russia, which Trump says proves that he’s tough on Putin. Trump also tries to place the blame on the media, accusing the “Fake News” of distorting reality.
  • But despite Trump’s self-defense, this time, his attacks on allies and friendliness toward Russia has sparked outrage from both parties — including Trump’s friends and allies.

[Axios]

Reality

Emmanuel Macron diplomatically called Trump a liar after he made this claim, citing the fact that no NATO member nation changed their defense spending goals, and pointing to a 2014 agreement signed during the Obama administration for the current spending targets.

Trump fires back at criticism of Putin press conference

President Trump on Monday sought to quell criticism that he sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the U.S. intelligence community during a joint press conference earlier in the day.

In a tweet sent from Air Force One, Trump reiterated confidence in American intelligence officials, hours after he refused to say if he believes the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people,'” Trump tweeted while flying back to Washington, D.C.

“However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!” he added.

The tweet came amid broad backlash from media analysts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle regarding Trump’s remarks in Helsinki. But he stopped short of saying whether he thinks Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

During the press conference with Putin, Trump was asked whether he believes his own intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered, or Putin’s denials.

“My people came to me… they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said. “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” Russia, he said.

“But I have confidence in both parties,” he added.

The summit came three days after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian nationals for their alleged roles in hacking the Democratic National Committee.

Putin said Monday that Trump raised the issue of election interference during their one-on-one meeting earlier in the day, but Trump did not press Putin or condemn the election meddling during the televised press conference.

Trump declared before the summit started that U.S. “foolishness” and special counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe were to blame for souring relations between the two countries.

During the press conference, he said he did not collude with Russia in the election. Trump also recounted his victory over Hillary Clinton and called Mueller’s investigation both “ridiculous” and a source of tension between the two countries.

Democrats called Trump’s performance “pathetic” and “disgraceful.”

On the Republican side, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Trump “must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

[The Hill]

Reality

Trump also used the term “my intelligence,” instead of the United States intelligence, just like “my generals” and “my military,” showing a pattern of his belief they work for him and not for the good of the country.

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