Colorado Editorials

The Colorado Springs Gazette: Trump caves to Vladimir Putin

Author: The Washington Examiner Editorial Board via The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board - July 17, 2018 - Updated: July 17, 2018

President Trump won the 2016 election by portraying himself as the strong leader America needed. But on Monday in Helsinki, standing beside a smiling Vladimir Putin, Trump proved himself weak.

When asked repeatedly and directly to condemn Putin’s meddling in the 2016 election — a fact established not only by FBI indictments but also by America’s entire intelligence community — Trump refused. He instead said he placed equal weight in the “extremely strong and powerful” denials of the Russian president with the firm conclusions of his own director of national intelligence.

Trump ran away from the well-established fact that Putin’s government hacked American politicians and deliberately tried to sow discord and undermine our democracy, and ran instead to worn-out rants about election results and incoherent attacks on the FBI. Putin happily accepted and magnified Trump’s attacks on our own law enforcement.

Trump also showed weakness in refusing to mention onstage with Putin Russia’s extraordinary and illegal military aggression of the past decade. Putin has invaded and held portions of two former Soviet republics, Georgia and Ukraine, and he’s showing designs on the Baltic States such as Belarus and Estonia.

“I think the United States has been foolish,” Trump said, to explain poor U.S.-Russia relationships. “I think we have both made some mistakes.”

In fact, our relations with Russia are poor because Russia is a malign force increasingly engaging in malicious actions, such as invasions, hacking, meddling, assassinations, and dishonesty. By blaming both sides, Trump embarrassed himself and his country.

A strong and prudent president would have crafted a condemnation both forceful and diplomatic about Russia’s election meddling, military aggression, and abuses of human rights and civil liberties.

Trump spoke up on none of these things, thus giving Putin another win. It’s not that Trump’s administration has been fully pro-Russia. Trump himself has criticized Germany for building a new Baltic pipeline with Russia. The administration has also tried to reinvigorate missile defenses and boost NATO spending.

The problem is personal. Trump is too fond of “extremely strong and powerful” Putin.

The Washington Examiner Editorial Board

The Washington Examiner Editorial Board via The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board