Commentary: Helsinki summit: Trump hails Russian propaganda over American intelligence

Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at

By Anthony L Hall

At a joint press conference today, President Trump doubled down on his belief in President Putin’s denial that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. This, despite his own intelligence agencies, which includes the CIA, FBI, and NSA, saying that Russia did, and the Mueller investigation indicting 12 Russian agents for orchestrating that meddling.

‘I have — I have confidence in both parties,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.’

(The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2018)

Of course, as the Journal insinuated, Trump of all people knows full well that denials from liars are always strong and powerful.

Bipartisanship is as rare in Washington these days as virtue. But Trump siding with Putin on this existential issue — on the world stage no less — provoked bipartisan outrage in spades. It began with Trump’s own Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats immediately rebutting and rebuking his betrayal as follows:

We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.

(USA Today, July 16, 2018)

But nobody expressed the Democrats’ outrage quite like John Brennan, the former head of the CIA:

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018

And nobody expressed the Republicans’ outrage quite like John McCain, US senator and bona-fide war hero:

Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.

(CNN, July 16, 2018)

To be fair, though, nobody should be shocked. After all, Trump telegraphed for years everything he did in Europe last week. Notably, this included stabbing UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the back over her beleaguered Brexit negotiations, extorting “pledges” for increased defense spending from NATO members, and standing shoulder to shoulder with Putin as they insulted US intelligence. I duly commented in “Trump Abroad: Mooning NATO, Droning Britain, Spooning Putin,” July 12, 2018.

But frankly, I have nothing but contempt for the American politicians who are rushing to TV cameras to express how “shocked, shocked” they are. And I have nothing but pity for the European politicians who are asking today the question I posed the morning after willful Americans elected this mendacious buffoon, namely: “WTF President-elect Donald J. Trump? America. What. Have. You. Done.” November 9, 2016.

To be clear, the following excerpts explain why I am too informed to be shocked and too indignant to be outraged by this latest manifestation of Trump’s “treasonous” behavior.


  •   From “Trump for President? Don’t Be a Sucker!” April 8, 2011:

Nothing demonstrates that his clownish foray into presidential politics is just for personal ego and financial enrichment quite like previewing his campaign platform by speaking more like a right-wing radio shock jock than a politician. …

That he is fashioning himself as a born-again conservative — after supporting mostly liberal causes for much of his life — indicates that he’s only doing what is good for Trump, not what is good for his country. …

It’s one thing for Trump to be huffing and puffing all over the media about how he would demonstrate that he has far bigger balls than Obama; i.e., by acting on the world stage like a bull in a China shop (pun intended). It’s quite another for this preternaturally self-obsessed shyster to be propagating racially divisive claims about Barack Obama being an African who perpetrated the biggest scam in history by getting elected president of the United States.

  •   From “Trump Is Trump, Intelligence Is Intelligence, and Never the Twain Shall Meet,” January 6, 2017:

It has become self-evident that Donald Trump and human intelligence are parallel forces of nature. The obvious reason for this is that Trump’s need to feed his ego — even in the face of brazen hypocrisy or imminent danger — knows no bounds. …

[T]here’s agreement across all US intelligence agencies that Russia tried, in a variety of unprecedented and foreboding ways, to influence the outcome of that election. …

The point is that, if you are still expressing shock and venting outrage over all of the ignorant, narcissistic, dishonest, puerile, thin-skinned, hypocritical, and dangerous things Trump says and does, the joke’s on you.

To be fair, though, Trump never missed an opportunity throughout his presidential campaign to warn voters that it’s more important to him to preserve his ego than to ‘preserve the Union.’

  •   From “The Week Trump Kissed Up to Saudi Arabia, Kissed Off Europe, and French Kissed the Philippines,” May 30, 2017:

One of the many unseemly things about Donald Trump as president of the United States is his longing admiration for dictators. …

Trump began insulting America’s European allies long before his arrival in Brussels on May 24. Therefore, it also came as no surprise when, on this occasion to reaffirm the ties that bind the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), his words reeked like a skunk at a garden party. …

Trump did in two days what Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying to do for nearly two decades: He sowed discord in NATO — the greatest military alliance in the history of mankind and the unassailable guarantor of peace on the Continent of Europe since WWII.

  •   From “Treasonous Trump Releasing Fake Memo to Frame FBI and Hide Russian Ties,” February 1, 2018:

Forget The Manchurian Candidate! Trump is behaving like a Manchurian president. … Just imagine Trump’s tweets about treason if Obama had taken the word of any foreign leader over the unanimous word of the directors of US intelligence agencies. …

And let me hasten to clarify the specious claim Trump and his enablers are making about Russia’s meddling not actually changing any votes. … [H]aving meddled to influence how so many Americans voted, the die was cast: Russia had no need to change the results.

There’s no denying the reasonable suspicion that Putin has cast a spell on him. Specifically, that fear of Putin releasing compromising information has something to do with his antic presidential behavior.


I told you so, no?

I will only add that Trump led Republicans in ridiculing Obama for bowing (as a courtesy) before the king of Saudi Arabia, a longstanding US ally. Yet here we have Trump kissing (as an apostasy) the ass of the president of Russia, a longstanding US enemy.

Unfortunately, accusing Republicans of rabid hypocrisy these days is rather like accusing jihadists of rabid religiosity. In both cases, I fear only Judgement Day will bring them to their senses.

Actually, waiting for enabling Republicans — who control Congress — to back up their rhetorical outrage with legislative action would be like Waiting for Godot. So don’t hold your breath.

Indeed, their spasms of outrage notwithstanding, here is what I texted to an old friend today:

The only chance they have of redeeming themselves in this world is if Republican leaders drag Trump in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot him between the eyes.

Related commentaries:
Trump abroad
WTF: President-elect
Trump for president
Mueller indictments
Treasonous Trump
Trump is Trump
Trump kissed up

* This commentary was originally published at The iPINIONS Journal on Monday, July 16.



  1. More would be accomplished if they dragged the traitor Obama, who is busy trash talking our American President all over south America into the middle of 5th Avenue and perform what you prescribed for Trump. You constantly insult the 50% of Americans who voted for and still support our great President. To be clear President Trump has a 90% approval rating among Republicans and a better than 50% approval rating among Independents. That my friend translates to another term. At least you will have plenty of subject about which you can spew your vitriol for the next 6 years. Meanwhile America prospers like never before.

    • What Obama (who no one ever seriously called a traitor) is saying is mild by comparison to Trump’s own officials, the Republican establishment and even Trump apologists Fox News:

      One of Trump’s own former National Security Council officials: “Dude. This is a total [effing] disgrace. The President has lost his mind.”

      Newt Gingrich, one of the most vocal Trump backers among establishment Republicans: “President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected — immediately.”

      Douglas E. Schoen, Fox News: “Putin eats Trump’s lunch in Helsinki”

      NY Daily News: “Putin’s poodle: Trump sells out US intelligence agencies with the world watching”

      Former CIA director John Brennan: “Treasonous … imbecilic”

      Senator John McCain (R-Az): “One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory… no prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”

      Neil Cavuto, Fox Business: “Disgusting.”

      Current senior administration officials: “His brain can’t process that collusion and cyberattacks are two different things … constitutionally incapable of taking anything Mueller finds seriously… Ego prevents him acknowledging the possibility that any external action could have interfered with his glorious victory… He’s just constitutionally incapable of processing simple information, or prioritizing the national interest above his own egoistic desires.”

      How do you spell Trump? T-R-A-I-T-O-R

      • There is no possibility that external action interfered at all in his “glorious victory” and that’s the rub. He is simply tired of talking about it and just wants to govern. Eighteen months down the road and still nothing tying President Trump to anything. In fact the activity regarding the elections took place on the “traitor Obama’s” watch. As usual when the dust clears all his detractors will end up with red faces as they did with their criticism of his North Korea overtures. I for one as do many of Trump supporters are happy to see him advance our relationship with Russia. At least he didn’t send him billions of dollars in cash during the night.

  2. President Obama is a man of intelligence, class and loved by many. America standing has declined. The most incompetent President in US history. Boastful and pompous, total disappointment.

    • Many would say he is the best and our standing on the International Stage is once again one of respect and not that of a whimpering puppy sucking up to all the leaders of our rivals.

  3. Obama was an utter puppet, doing the bidding of the Military Industrial Complex and being an overall wet squab of a President. In a fair world, he and Mrs. Clinton would be executed for the destruction of Libya, the demolition of its civil infrastructure and the murder of its leader.
    The only thing that redeems him in the eyes of many is his colour, which allowed the American establishment to parade itself as the unblemished and enlightened bearer of virtue that it never was and to silent the sad, easily manipulated minorities who are the manipulated tools of those who play racial identity politics.

    NATO is a war machine that is intent on encircling Russia and hence justifying the corrupt relationship between politicians and defence industries that has been a theme in western politics for decades. Meanwhile Russia (the only defender of sanity on the planet capable of standing up to NATO aggression) has just liberated Syria from an EU and NATO-sponsored jihadist insurgency disguised as a ‘civil war’. Whatever his faults, Trump at least has the guts to stand up to the corporate/military/media junta and its brainwashed hordes who are ‘informed’ by CNN and the likes.

    • So well said. I love Trump’s reaction to all this. He is going to invite Putin to come to the White House to continue his talks hopefully in private just to rub their faces in it. If they wanted a corrupt political whore to do their bidding they should have elected Clinton.

    • Finally, Trump says something that’s true: “The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” @realDonaldTrump

      We know Obama did nothing wrong.
      Obama did nothing wrong? Cool.
      Yes, I already knew that President Obama did nothing wrong.
      Glad to hear @BarackObama is in the clear!
      You are right about one thing. President @BarackObama did nothing wrong.

      [Obama topped a survey of “best presidents” released by the Pew Research Center in July. He also ranked top of a “most admired men” list compiled by YouGov in April.]

        • Not a clue… ask the Trump voters who now find themselves with reduced or no healthcare, a bleak economic future as a result of tariffs, illusory tax cuts, and a complete loss of any moral compass.

          • Obamacare was no healthcare to speak of. Beyond that observation, I haven’t an iota of interest in internal US affairs or policy. What I DO have an interest in is clipping the wings of the adventurous elements among the neocon and liberal interventionist crowd who have made the world a dangerous and violent place. If a man who blitzed poor villagers in Pakistan with drones, helped turn Libya from a high human development country into a cesspool and almost did the same to Syria can sell himself as being some kind of sanctified statesman, that sums up that the CIA did a very good job by distracting you and others with racialized politics into being subservient supporters of the Military industrial complex.

  4. Why Trump taking credit for decimation of ISIS in Syria? No authorization of drones by this administration? Obama is to blame for the mess in Libya. Haven’t heard a word from officials regarding Libya.


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