Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

Still trying to process that bizarre joint appearance

Nearly a week later and that mind-blowing press availability with Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin is still the talk of the town.

Or the nation. Maybe the world.

I’m still trying to make sense of it. I’m trying to determine what in the world is rattling around in the president’s noggin. I’m trying to figure out why in the name of bilateral relations he didn’t call Putin out for what damn near everyone on Earth knows he did: the Russian president orchestrated the cyber attack on our electoral system in 2016.

I’m still not ready to say that Trump has broken the law and committed an act of treason for which he could be prosecuted, convicted and given the ultimate sentence … of death.

But damn! As former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates said this week, Trump might be the first president in history who isn’t “all in” with regard to standing up for the United States of America.

I believe she is correct. Trump’s hideous disparaging of our intelligence agencies and his acceptance of Putin’s denial that he attacked our electoral system spoke volumes about the president’s commitment to the nation he governs. It’s not there!

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. As many of us have noted — and I’m one of them — Trump entered the 2016 campaign after never run for any public office of any kind. Public service is a totally foreign concept to this guy. He gauges every move, every decision, every action on its impact on his poll standing, or his “ratings.”

Then we have that Helsinki event. The president who vowed to “get tough” with our adversaries has gotten soft. The president who said he would “make America great again” has made America the world’s laughingstock. The man who vowed to “put America first” has now put our foes first, starting with Russia.

All the while he keeps yapping and yammering about “rigged witch hunts” while getting angry when his Cabinet doesn’t fawn over his every pronouncement.

And he keeps lying.

My head is about to explode.

Come clean on the Trump-Putin meeting

I am not the first person to say this out loud, but I’ll say it anyway.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin need to tell the world what the hell they talked about in that closed-door meeting in Helsinki, Finland. Come clean, Messrs. President. You represent nearly 500 million people between you. The world wants to know.

Republican lawmakers are starting to put a bit of heat on the president. According to The Hill: Congressional Republicans are urging the White House to get ahead of the Kremlin by defining what was and wasn’t agreed to. What was said between the two leaders, they admit, remains a disconcerting mystery.

Not only that, Americans need some clarity on the questions that are gnawing at many of them: What, if anything, does Putin have on Trump? Why won’t the U.S. president seriously condemn the Russian president’s ordering of the attack on our electoral system in 2016? Where will the path to bilateral friendship take the two nations? Did the leaders make any verbal agreements between them? If yes, then what the hell are they?

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also wonders whether a proposed second Trump-Putin summit is going to implement some mystery agreements.

Then there’s this, also from The Hill: Members of Congress worry that Russia will use the Helsinki summit to undermine U.S. relations with NATO allies, especially with former East bloc and Soviet states that Putin views as within his country’s traditional sphere of influence.

Lots of questions. Lots of mystery. We need some transparency and accountability. Now!

Where are the ‘best words’?

Donald Trump’s amazingly clumsy “clarification” of what he said in Helsinki brings to mind a stellar campaign promise he made while running for president in 2016.

The told us he would surround himself with the “best people” and he would speak to us using the “best words.”

Zero for two?

Yes, he has some good folks in key places. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a good one; so is Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; I’ll put United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in that crowd, too. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has possibilities.

Many of the rest of them? Not the “best.” Not by a long shot.

How about those “best words” Trump pledged? Let’s turn our attention to that Helsinki clown show that unfolded before the entire world at the beginning of the week.

There was Donald Trump standing alongside Vladimir Putin, the former KGB chief spook who serves as Russia’s president.

A reporter asked the president whether he doubted U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia attacked our democratic process. Trump said he spoke with Dan Coats, that he accepts the intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia interfered in our election, but that Putin had offered a “strong and powerful denial.”

Then he said, “I don’t know why they (the Russians) would” interfere.

To borrow a phrase: Oops!

More than 24 hours later, Trump convened a Cabinet meeting and declared he meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of “would.” He then made the term “double negative” famous around the world.

I’ll inject here that Donald J. Trump made sure reporters heard him praise Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference during that joint appearance in Helsinki.

That is how the president “misspoke”? I do not think so.

Nor do I believe he uses the “best words” to convey whatever message he wants heard.

Putin: a man of many tongues?

I know I’m not the only person on Earth who believes this.

Still, I must wonder whether Russian President Vladimir Putin knows English far better than anyone really knows.

I’ve never heard the Russian strongman speak English. He had that translator in the Helsinki meeting with Donald J. Trump. He always communicates through a translator, for that matter.

But here’s the deal: Putin is a former head of the KGB, the highly sophisticated spy agency that operated during the days of the Soviet Union. Does it make any sense that the top KGB spook wouldn’t be fluent in English, the language of international trade, commerce, transportation? (And yes, I intended to type the word “wouldn’t.”)

All of this makes me wonder why we keep talking about translators and ensuring that they convey the messages delivered by whomever the Russian president is meeting.

My strong hunch is that Vladimir Putin understands perfectly whatever the U.S. president was giving up, er … telling him when they were behind closed doors.

It wasn’t mere ‘meddling,’ it was an attack

I have just made a command decision as the publisher of High Plains Blogger.

No longer will I refer to the Russian attack on our electoral system, on our democratic process merely as an act of “meddling.”

It was a full-frontal assault on our electoral process. It was an attack on our way of life.

I got the idea from a letter to the editor I saw this morning on Twitter. I think the letter was from the New York Times. The writer compared “meddling” to the butting in by nosy relatives on the business of family members.

I thought, “Wow! I get that.” Not the nosy relatives thing, but the notion that “meddling” is far too mild a term to describe what the Russians did during our 2016 presidential election.

Thus, I made the decision to henceforth refer to that act using terminology that more aptly describes its impact.

Am I going to assert that the Russian attack actually produced a Donald Trump victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton? I won’t go there. At least not just yet. I will await the results from Robert Mueller’s exhaustive probe into potential “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian goons ordered by Vladimir Putin to launch their attack on our system.

In the future, though, do not look for the word “meddling” from this blog to describe what I consider to be damn near an act of war on our democratic process by a hostile nation.

Putin’s ‘worst enemy’? Let’s see about that one

Donald John Trump now vows to be Vladimir Putin’s “worst enemy” if the men’s attempts at friendship fails.

Sure. I’ll buy that. Actually, I won’t.

You see, the president has been handed every opportunity already to become the Russian president’s “worst enemy.” He has taken a pass.

You saw that astonishing press conference in Helsinki. Trump had a chance to confront Putin on the world stage. He didn’t. Instead, he said Putin’s denial of attacking the U.S. political system in 2016 was “very strong” and “powerful.”

Trump has hit back at the critics. He said something on CNBC about those who have said he should have been tougher on Putin. Trump offered some goofy straw man, asking whether his critics wanted him to walk over to Putin, get directly in his face and yell at him.

Of course not, Mr. President.

All many of us want is for you to look Putin in the eye and say, “Mr. President, we will not stand for your interfering in our electoral system. Americans consider that a hostile — and I am one of them — and we will respond accordingly.”

He didn’t do that … apparently. He stood there and then rolled over.

Now he contends that he’ll be Putin’s “worst nightmare”? Give me a break.

Yet again, he takes another shot at former President Obama, who he has called a “patsy” in his relationship with Putin. Oh, brother. The president needs to give that one up, too.

The president so far has demonstrated a profound reluctance to talk straight to this nation’s adversary. Tough talk to American media won’t do the job, Mr. President.

Let’s be friends, but first …

Donald J. Trump wants to be “friends” with Russia.

The president wants his country to get along well with another country that has demonstrated its willingness — and ability — to wreak havoc on the United States political system.

At one level I understand and appreciate the president’s desire to make nice with Russia and with its president, Vladimir Putin.

But first things first.

True bilateral “friendship” ought to mirror interpersonal friendships in this manner: The nations must be able to clear the air over differences that exist between them. There exists a tremendous wall between the United States and Russia. To wit:

Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Iran, Middle East peace, the Baltic States and, oh yeah, that attack on our democratic process in 2016!

OK, where do we start?

If the president is intent on forging a true “friendship” between the United States and Russia, he needs to lay down the law on all those issues. There cannot be any misunderstanding about U.S. intentions if we are to craft a new kind of relationship with this rival state.

And I want to clear the air on one point. Russia is our “rival” only militarily. The Russians possess a lot of nuclear weapons, held over from the Soviet Union era. The nation is a third-rate economic power; I heard this week that Russia ranks as the world’s 30th-largest economic power. Thirtieth!

Texas ranks at No. 11 worldwide; California is No. 5!

Russia is huge geographically, and it covers 11 time zones, but it is losing population. It is a nation in decline!

Thus, Russia is not a major “trading partner” with the United States. It can barely sustain itself economically.

It is from that position of strength that the president has allowed this nation to sink to the Russians’ level while he grovels at Putin’s feet over the 2016 election attack.

If we’re going to make friends with Russia — and Trump is correct to assert that a friendship with Russia is better for us and the world than an adversarial relationship — then we need to set the record straight on a whole array of issues and differences.

That has to come first. The “friendship” then can follow suit.

DNI emerges as new favorite among Trump team

Dan Coats today emerged as a new favorite of mine among those who serve on Donald J. Trump’s national security team.

The director of national intelligence sat down for a lengthy interview with NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell; he is attending that policy forum discussion in Aspen, Colo.

He spoke honestly with Mitchell about the president’s meeting this week in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin. He said he would “do things differently” in terms of setting up such a meeting. He is uncomfortable with the two leaders meeting privately with no senior staff aides present.

Mitchell then surprised the DNI with news that Trump had asked Putin to come to Washington in the fall for a second summit meeting.

The idea that the most indispensable intelligence official wouldn’t know about such a meeting is appalling on its face. Coats didn’t hold back on his surprise. “Say that again,” he said to Mitchell, who repeated the news. Coats raised his eyebrows, commenting finally on how interesting the meeting is going to be.

Coats served as a Republican member of Congress. He is a staunch and dedicated partisan. He also is a dedicated public servant who has given the public his candid appraisal of what the intelligence community has concluded: The Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Defense Secretary James Mattis is my previous favorite among Trump’s senior aides. He remains highly regarded by yours truly.

So, too, does Dan Coats.

Will there be an ultimate insult with a Putin visit?

Let’s try to wrap our minds around this scenario, if we dare.

Vladimir Putin appears to have been invited to visit the Donald Trump this fall at the White House. The president has sent the invitation in the wake of that hideous press conference in Helsinki, an event that has prompted bipartisan condemnation over the president’s failure to stand up to Putin’s attempt to interfere with our 2016 presidential election.

One of the customs of these state visits is to have the visiting “dignitary” speak to a joint session of Congress.

Do you suppose it is possible that Trump — along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who extends the invitation — would have the gall to invite Vladimir Putin to darken the door of the Capitol Building?

Think about that for just a moment.

Putin sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. He launched an attack on our democratic process.

Do you think the president has any hint, any glimmer of understanding of what that entails? Do you believe he understands the hideous irony of having his pal Putin speak to the nation from that chamber?

I don’t know this as fact, but my strong hunch is that Trump hasn’t a clue. He has no idea of how such an insult would play to many of us out here in the country he was elected to lead.

Vladimir Putin is a killer. He is a trained spook. He once described the fall of the Soviet Union as one of the darkest episodes of his life. He is an enemy of the United States. He wants to undermine our system of government. He wants to tear apart our alliances.

If this thug is allowed to stand at the podium in the House of Representatives, he will leave an indelible stench in the halls of the very government he has attacked.

Trump asks Putin to White House? Wow!

Donald J. Trump’s ignorance is on full display for all the world to see.

Think about this for a brief moment.

The president of the United States disgraces himself at that press conference in Helsinki. He disparages the intelligence agencies’ view that Russia meddled in our election. He takes Vladimir Putin’s side. The media go ballistic. So do politicians on both sides of the divide.

Then he tries to take some of it back. He does so clumsily at a Cabinet meeting, reading from some prepared text, only to ad lib that “others may have” interfered in our election. Politicians keep going nuts. Same for the media coverage.

With the president being pilloried and pounded, what does he do? He orders national security adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to the White House for another summit in the fall. White House press flack Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the world about that gem via Twitter.

Oh, and then there’s the surprise sprung on his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who found out about the invitation while being interviewed on TV. NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell told Coats about the invitation on live TV. Coats did not know about it. The nation’s top intelligence officer was left in the lurch.

I am left to wonder: Is the president operating in a hermetically sealed booth? Does he not hear anything … at all?

What in the name of electoral collusion is going to occur if Putin accepts this invitation, comes to the White House and meets — presumably in private yet again — with his presidential puppet?