STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump's written notes spotted on Russia statement

President Donald Trump, facing an onslaught of bipartisan fury over his glowing remarks about Vladimir Putin, said more than 24 hours afterward that he had misspoken during his news conference with the autocratic Russian leader.

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 7:11 AM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 7:11 AM

Wriggling his backside further into the velvet luxury of the 19th Century armchair, Vladimir Putin could be forgiven a sigh of satisfaction.

He mirthlessly smiled at an exchange on Russia 1's "60 Minutes" political panel discussion as it dissected his recent summit with Donald Trump.

Leonid Kalashnikov (Russian State Duma): "America is to blame for the deterioration in relations, he wrote this on Twitter even before the meeting!"

Evgeny Popov (host): "Look, it's really strange, he's the President of that exact country, how can he say that ... It's really odd, well, you can't bash your own country, especially when you're its President."

Olga Skabeeva (host): "Well, yes, especially when he [Trump] says that because of the foolishness and stupidity of the United States, we have bad Russian-American relations. Indeed, this smells like he is a Kremlin agent..."

The dialogue is CNN's verbatim transcription and translation of a part of Tuesday night's show, the day after the Helsinki summit.

Of course, I'm speculating at Putin's reaction. Perhaps he was a little put out at the suggestion that Trump was an asset. But sometimes (and as former director of the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, he should know), hiding in plain sight can be the best place to seek invisibility.

But in any case, the Russian President's resting face is one of self-confident self-satisfaction. Over the last few days he could be forgiven for being outright smug. Perhaps even allowing himself a conspiratorial wink in the shaving mirror.

After all, for Putin, things are falling into place.

No matter that a dozen of his alleged GRU (military intelligence agents) had been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe for attempting to disrupt the 2106 US elections.

Nor that British investigators are closing in on who they believe were Russian agents behind the use of a globally banned nerve agent in the sleepy cathedral city of Salisbury.

No matter that human-rights groups were screaming "murder!" at his air force's bombing of Syrian civilians.

No matter that this was the fourth anniversary of the killing of 298 people on an Malaysia Airlines flight shot down with a Russian BUK missile over Ukraine.

This "Tsar" had seldom seemed less vulnerable (another irony on the 100th anniversary of the murder of Russia's last royals, the Romanovs).

No. Things were good.

After all, some useful idiots were rampaging around among his enemies sowing just the sort of discord and chaos that he would love to have ordered. It was as if they really were his agents.

Attributed, probably erroneously, to Lenin describing liberal supporters in the West who could be relied on to spread Bolshevik propaganda, the term "useful idiot" was often applied to members of groups like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The Soviets sought to help and influence CND, left-wing politicians, trade unionists and artists into undermining the West, inside the West. The "idiots" were not traitors. They knew not what they did. They were dupes.

Now US President Donald Trump was being accused of treason by a former head of the Central Intelligence Agency. That, to Putin, is useful.

Why would the former FSB chief not chuckle? There's nothing like universal distrust and doubt at the highest levels in the leadership of the enemy to ensure a good night's sleep.

Twenty years ago, a younger Putin, an expert on Eastern Germany, had seen the Soviet-dominated nations like Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria the Baltic states, slough off the Kremlin's yoke and embrace democracy, membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.

Russia's military might had been spent. Its prestige diluted. The very idea of the Cominitern -- international communism -- buried by capitalism.

Mother Russia was barefoot and humiliated after the rapacious collapse of the Soviet Union in the '90s.

Russia was powerless, it seemed, to stop Georgia and then Ukraine (homeland of the original Russ tribes!) flirting with membership of the NATO and European clubs.

There had to be another way to restore Russian pride and regional power. To get its presence felt in the world. Perhaps the West's own power was its greatest weakness.

Nothing rots armor plating like complacency. Now that the West believed it had won, it was going to learn otherwise.

Touring Europe, Trump railed at NATO. He threatened to pull funding from the military alliance that has protected the West for 70 years. He'd even cast doubt on the doctrine of "an attack on one is an attack on all," which had bonded big nation to small throughout the years of the Soviet threat.

With "enemies" like Trump, Vladimir Putin hardly needed friends.

Add to that the idea that the US President disrespected US intelligence and then backtracked on his very clear statement a day after and the scene becomes surreal.

Trump's full-blown praise of Putin had become embarrassing.

No wonder Putin had intervened during the Helsinki press conference to put across the American view of his annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

It had to be tempered even by the Russian President himself. There was a danger of global incredulity at these incredible scenes.

But this has been a week of rich harvest for the Kremlin.

Chaos in Washington matched with tumult in the Mother of Parliaments, in London.

If there is one organization he detested, and feared, as much as NATO it is the European Union. It knitted together disparate nations into a vast democratic behemoth capable of swallowing and infecting Russia's neighbors with its free trade and freedoms.

But, thanks to the British, it was now pulling itself apart.

Led by men who were unwilling, or unable, to see that whatever benefits they thought Britain leaving the EU could bring, those advantages were going to be met with parallel strategic benefits to Russia.

The EU would be weakened. Its centrifugal forces (with a little encouragement) could be exploited through nationalism, especially among the young democracies of Eastern Europe, which could be turned to look nostalgically back towards Moscow.

These movements would need charismatic champions. Men for whom truth is mutable, expertise to be shunned.

Take Boris Johnson, a perfect foil for Russian interests. A performer loved at home and derided abroad. A symbol of the very Western decadence Russia nationalists were encouraged to believe Putin protected them against.

Inexplicably anti-European, he'd risen to become the UK's Foreign Secretary before resigning in a bid to smash existing Brexit plans. Yet he's not published a word, not one coherent word, of how he saw an "independent" Britain making its way in the world.

Johnson is backed up by Nigel Farage, who is alleged to have links to WikiLeaks -- itself linked to Russian intelligence operations.

And his campaign funding is now under police investigation while darkness surrounds the role of Russia in the whole farrago.

How utterly exquisite. Putin could not make this up -- surely?

For Putin, chaos in the ranks of his enemies is victory. And without a shot being fired directly at NATO or the EU, nor any violence against America, there is chaos in Europe, Britian and America.

All driven by men who one could not say were traitors, nor even idiots, but they have been most useful -- to Putin's Russia.

Terre Haute
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 74°
Rockville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Casey
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Brazil
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Marshall
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
July Heat
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 143185

Reported Deaths: 6923
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook905364565
Lake9719416
DuPage9032470
Kane7703268
Will6686319
Winnebago303094
McHenry203297
St. Clair1874135
Kankakee127265
Kendall95620
Madison93268
Rock Island92529
Champaign86012
Boone58621
DeKalb55018
Peoria48728
Sangamon42631
Jackson33219
Randolph2857
Stephenson2705
Ogle2614
McLean26013
Clinton23617
Macon23222
LaSalle21617
Union18819
Whiteside18615
Coles16417
Grundy1624
Iroquois1575
Warren1360
Knox1300
Cass1292
Morgan1283
Monroe12713
Tazewell1278
Williamson1154
Jefferson10717
McDonough10015
Lee972
Adams871
Henry841
Pulaski740
Marion650
Vermilion652
Douglas520
Macoupin513
Perry511
Unassigned480
Jasper467
Montgomery441
Christian434
Livingston432
Jo Daviess421
Jersey351
Woodford332
Ford311
Bureau292
Menard250
Fayette233
Alexander220
Mason220
Wabash220
Carroll212
Johnson200
Mercer200
Piatt190
Washington190
Crawford180
Hancock181
Shelby181
Moultrie170
Fulton150
Clark140
Franklin140
Logan140
Wayne141
Bond131
Schuyler130
Effingham121
Cumberland110
Massac110
Brown100
Edgar100
Greene90
Saline90
Henderson80
Marshall80
Lawrence70
De Witt60
Hamilton50
Richland40
White40
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Pike20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Out of IL10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 45594

Reported Deaths: 2640
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11329679
Lake4847239
Elkhart304143
Allen2649110
St. Joseph183065
Cass16369
Hamilton1463100
Hendricks136699
Johnson1232118
Porter68036
Madison64263
Tippecanoe6338
Clark61644
Bartholomew57844
Howard54256
LaPorte53425
Kosciusko4842
LaGrange4566
Jackson4543
Noble43428
Delaware42548
Boone42142
Hancock41835
Shelby41425
Vanderburgh4136
Marshall4093
Floyd36244
Morgan31831
Grant28526
Montgomery28520
Clinton2792
Dubois2596
White25710
Monroe24428
Decatur24332
Henry23515
Lawrence22924
Vigo2228
Harrison20822
Dearborn20322
Warrick19629
Greene18431
Miami1802
Jennings16910
Putnam1658
DeKalb1574
Scott1547
Daviess13816
Orange13323
Wayne1276
Franklin1248
Steuben1232
Perry1188
Ripley1127
Carroll1082
Jasper1072
Wabash1072
Fayette957
Newton9410
Whitley794
Randolph764
Huntington702
Starke683
Jay670
Wells671
Fulton661
Jefferson641
Washington641
Knox620
Clay594
Pulaski591
Rush563
Benton470
Adams451
Sullivan451
Owen431
Gibson412
Brown381
Blackford352
Posey320
Spencer301
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain282
Switzerland240
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike60
Unassigned0192