By Jason Taylor
Trump, once again, is trying to play both sides of the fence. He barely acknowledged Russia’s election meddling, but then had Tillerson claim that was the first thing they talked about? Lavrov’s version of the election interference discussion sounds so much more like Trump’s voice than Tillerson’s does. It’s sad that I’ll take the word of a Russian diplomat over our own Secretary of State.
I suspect Lavrov is closer to the truth with his account of the discussion of Russian election meddling. His account jibes with the way Trump has been minimizing the issue ever since the election. Tillerson chose his words carefully and makes clear that they brought it up because of “the concern of the American people.” In other words, they felt pressured to bring it up so they could say they did, but Trump is personally happy to accept Putin’s denial because it fits perfectly with his “we don’t know who did it” routine anyway.
Putin has a well-established reputation of dominating meetings with other heads of state, particularly by controlling the discussion. To Obama’s credit, this approach failed, and relations between the two were somewhat icy. Trump, however, went into this meeting without an agenda, which means he was intent on free wheeling rather than having a full grasp of the details of likely issues to be raised. But then, Trump is not a detail kind of guy and, when caught short, just makes stuff up.
Specifics of the meeting likely will take days, if not weeks, to come out, most likely from Trump tweets and policy recommendations.
I predict the major revelation will be that Trump agreed to “partner” with Russia on Syria, a partnership that Russia will control and one in which we will have agreed that Assad not only will remain as a brutal despot, but also to not interfere in Assad extending his control over the entire country.
I don’t believe for a moment that Trump “pressed” Putin on Russia’s so-called ‘meddling’ — say an attack — in the 2016 U.S. election. It has been like pulling teeth to get Trump to even grudgingly admit that Russia, qualifying it with many others, might have had a role in hacking the American election. Given that there were a total of six people at this meeting, three on the American side, Tillerson and Trump can say whatever they wish (if the translator doesn’t leak a contradiction, that is). Which are the lies and what is the truth?
Given Trump’s predilection for serial lying, it is difficult to know what to think about this much-hyped meeting. One hopes for the best but it is hard to trust that Trump has anybody, anything, any nation’s best interests at heart if it doesn’t directly and closely dovetail with his own. I hate to say it but not surprisingly, it looks like Russia won this round and Putin played Trump.
Donald Trump trashed America yesterday, criticizing his intelligence agencies, his predecessor, and basically manifesting contempt for the institutions he serves. I’ve never seen anything like it. To say in the same sentence that Russia meddled, but we don’t know for sure that Russia meddled, and then excoriating President Obama for not doing anything about the meddling he just refuted was embarrassing, and bordered on the seditious. One wonders why Trump wanted to be president if he shows such little respect for his country while abroad.
Putin is a guy capable of making or breaking corrupt Russian oligarchs with a hundred times the wealth of a Donald Trump. He has also killed a lot of people, many probably with his own hands. And is capable of doing both of those things before he has breakfast.
Trump’s talents lie elsewhere. He is a highly accomplished liar, has cheated on his wives and paramours; cheated on his taxes; cheated his lenders; cheated his business partners; cheated Atlantic City; and has cheated his supporters to whom he has promised a wall, a health plan, tax relief and infrastructure improvements so quickly that they would soon get tired of winning.
What a sad day for the United States of America when the President of our country kisses up to the leader of our enemy, the leader who lead the hacking of our presidential election.
Putin doesn’t need to test Donald Trump’s resolve. He’s had ample opportunity to see it — or the lack thereof — first hand.