Confronted with Putin's lies, Trump flinches again

Like a boy forced to say "I'm sorry" when he doesn't mean it, President Donald Trump has been sullenly trying to fix ...

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 12:18 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 12:18 PM

Like a boy forced to say "I'm sorry" when he doesn't mean it, President Donald Trump has been sullenly trying to fix the problem he caused in Helsinki, Finland when he embraced Vladimir Putin and disrespected America's intelligence agencies and allies. Most recently he told CBS news anchor Jeffrey Glor he used his one-one-one meeting with Putin to express strong concern about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Then he went soft again on America's most aggressive enemy and complained like a malcontent child.

Amid recitations of his tired mantra -- "no collusion" -- Trump called former CIA Director John Brennan "a total lowlife" and said former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has "gone haywire" because they have been calling attention to Russia's attack on American democracy. Both men have served America for decades, working with presidents of both parties, and they were part of the group that confirmed the Russian campaign to drum up support for Trump's candidacy for President.

Not content to bash public servants, Trump used a question about whether he spoke firmly to Putin to complain about his predecessor. Trump said he spoke "very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling, we can't have any of that, now look. We're also living in a grown up world. Will a strong statement, you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement, nobody heard it, what they did hear is the statement he made to Putin's very close friend. And that statement was not acceptable. Didn't get very much play relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable. But I let him know we can't have this, we're not going to have it, and that's the way it's going to be."

Trump speaks in such a garbled way that it seems like he never wants anyone to really understand what he's saying. However, there's no mistaking that his intent was to deflect attention from the fact that he was weak in Putin's presence. During his news conference in Helsinki with Putin, while the whole world watched, he praised the Russian President's strength and explained, "He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."

Weak as Trump looked as he stood next to Putin, he looked even softer when he explained -- more than 24 hours later -- that he misspoke and intended to say "wouldn't." Only an incompetent President would make a mistake such as this, and only a fool would accept his lame explanation. Remarkably, Trump continued to show his fear of Putin when Glor gave him a chance to say Putin lied. "I don't want to get into whether Putin lied," said Trump, exhibiting astounding cowardice.

Although what Trump said was bad, it was what was missing from his interview with Glor that stands out. Where was the anger we should expect to hear from a President who knows a foreign power had attacked the integrity of our election? Where was his determined proposal for both defending our democracy and answering Russia's offenses with action of his own?

No matter the party, the era, or the political conditions, a President's first instinct should be to protect the country he loves from its true enemies. This feeling was evident in Franklin D. Roosevelt's description of the Pearl Harbor attack -- "a day that will live in infamy" -- and in George W. Bush's words after 9/11. "America has stood down enemies before," said Bush, "and we will do so this time."

For a more recent example of genuine, heartfelt anger directed at an American enemy, look at the photo of Barack Obama glowering at Putin at the time of Russia's cyberattacks on the US election system. Dubbed the "death stare" by Britain's Daily Mail, the moment came before anyone was even sure about the extent of Putin's meddling.

Clearly Trump lacks the spine, and the loving paternal instinct, to stand as America's defender. Instead, he seems to be focused on the threat to his own ego that the Russian election interference implies. Indeed, as more and more evidence of Putin's election manipulation emerges, the shadow over Trump's presidency grows larger. Thanks to the work of special counsel Robert Mueller and investigations by other authorities, we know that Russia mounted an aggressive effort to help Trump capture the White House. That effort included:

- Stealing documents from Democratic Party officials and disseminating them publicly

- Hacking into state election boards' computers across the country

- Conducting massive pro-Trump propaganda efforts online

- Creating fake grassroots organizations to oppose Clinton and boost Trump

- Enticing Trump campaign officials with promises of documents that could damage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Even by Putin's own admissions, we know that he wanted Trump to win the 2016 election.

With thousands of keystrokes and outrageous acts, Putin's minions offended the United States of America. These crimes were committed in secret, by agents intent on sowing confusion and disguising their efforts, which means that our understanding of these events has only come gradually.

The key factor in Trump's response to Putin before and after the election has been his focus on his own interest above that of the United States. Instead of the anger and action one would expect from a President responding to an attack, he has repeatedly questioned the findings of US intelligence agencies and used the phrase "no collusion" to argue that he won the presidency fair and square. What clearly matters to the President is his own image and claim to power, not the integrity of the nation.

Face-to-face with the bad guy, Trump betrayed his duty and revealed his lack of protective passion. The last time any American politician made such a mistake was when presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis was asked a hypothetical question, during a 1988 presidential debate, about imposing the death penalty on a man who killed his wife. Instead of flashing real anger at the thought of the crime, Dukakis offered an abstract answer that ended his political career. Trump, faced with an actual assault on America, demonstrates an even worse instinct by repeatedly denying the offense and embracing the offender.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 78°
Robinson
Mostly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 85°
Indianapolis
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Rockville
Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 86°
Casey
Mostly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 84°
Brazil
Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 78°
Marshall
Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 78°
Scattered Rain, Cloudy Start
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Western Indiana Tour

Image

All You Need to Know for Monday

Image

Monday: Scattered showers, cloudy start. High: 81.

Image

Local Woman's Back to School Drive

Image

Walk to End Alzheimer's

Image

Sunday Evening: Scattered showers and storms.

Image

Sunday: Increasing clouds, hot. High: 90°

Image

Saturday Evening Forecast

Image

Saturday: Mostly sunny, unseasonably warm. High: 89°

Image

Casey-Westfield

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 1590342

Reported Deaths: 26979
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook60937610925
DuPage1031521352
Will865801083
Lake764741056
Kane65399842
Winnebago38682543
Madison37731569
St. Clair34758561
McHenry32773313
Peoria25738361
Champaign25601182
Sangamon24263266
McLean21611205
Tazewell19559326
Rock Island17631342
Kankakee16523233
Kendall15274105
LaSalle14349275
Macon14248233
Vermilion12908182
Adams12589147
DeKalb11542127
Williamson11206156
Whiteside7813176
Boone756681
Jackson756683
Coles7175112
Ogle705385
Grundy693181
Clinton676498
Franklin669694
Knox6528163
Marion6454135
Macoupin636597
Henry610272
Jefferson5981131
Effingham588980
Livingston564394
Woodford549791
Stephenson540089
Randolph522996
Monroe503299
Christian481980
Morgan479995
Fulton479069
Logan473573
Montgomery462876
Lee454956
Bureau423087
Perry411171
Saline399263
Iroquois391171
Fayette387756
McDonough352155
Jersey319753
Douglas303336
Shelby300343
Crawford298930
Lawrence294631
Union293846
Wayne267957
White261530
Richland256852
Hancock253434
Pike252256
Cass247728
Clark244138
Bond242224
Clay233347
Ford233056
Edgar229844
Carroll223937
Warren220456
Moultrie209331
Johnson208922
Washington204927
Jo Daviess203525
Greene199339
Mason196251
Wabash196115
Massac195144
De Witt192730
Piatt188814
Mercer187035
Cumberland174123
Menard155812
Jasper149518
Marshall133721
Hamilton127221
Brown10138
Pulaski97311
Schuyler9608
Edwards94815
Stark76027
Gallatin7285
Scott6895
Alexander66411
Calhoun6382
Henderson63114
Hardin55713
Putnam5414
Pope4725
Unassigned1582432
Out of IL80

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468