Kyle Orton Profile picture
Terrorism and national security analyst | Lot of history and religion; regrettably, also some politics | Obligatory Substack plug: check it out, subscribe, etc

Jul 16, 2018, 17 tweets

#Putin's opening to this press conference suggests the takeover of southern #Syria by Asad/Iran is a model of U.S.-Russia cooperation that should be expanded, and flatters Trump that his summit with Kim [which Putin very much liked the look of] resolved the Korean Peninsula.

On #Ukraine, Putin hints broadly that the U.S. agrees with him that Kyiv's intransigence prevented Minsk's implementation, and then carefully lets it be known Trump brought up the election meddling, an assist to Trump politically, before of course dismissing it.

Trump frames engagement around U.S.-Russian co-operation in WW2, notes that unfortunate Cold War business, then says: "Our relationship has never been worse ... that changed as of about four hours ago." Says he is being politically brave to do what's right. Lambastes media + Dems

Trump says he will always put the American populace first, will pursue peace over politics. Says he raised the election meddling with Putin, who has "very strong feelings" and an "interesting idea" about it, apparently.

Trump claims securing relations with Russia will save hundreds of thousands of lives. Adds: "We have taken the first steps toward a brighter future."

Trump mentions the Nord Stream pipeline and having said it makes Germany dependent on Russia. Then turns to Putin and says he called him "a competitor and a good competitor he is. The word 'competitor' is a compliment."

So gross.

Asked if #Russia has any responsibility for the state of relations, Trump resorts to the moral equivalence we used to get from the Left: "I hold both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish. I think we have all been foolish. ... We're all to blame."

Putin piggybacks on Trump's we're-both-to-blame statement to claim that the U.S. intelligence engages in "illegal actions" in Russia and specifically attacks @Billbrowder for having acquired funds illegally (and then apparently channelled them to the Hillary campaign).

On #Syria, Trump says "President Putin is also helping #Israel ... We absolutely would like to work [together] to help Israel" (which is at best dubious) and that #Russia has "helped us with" #IS (which is flatly untrue). Adds as an afterthought that they can help Syria's people.

Putin, in response to Pompeo's statement (put to Putin by an RT journalist) that the ball was in #Russia's court over #Syria, hands a football to Trump and says, "Now the ball is in your court."

Trump, asked if he will condemn election meddling, says that the real question is where is the server. Putin denies, but it might be Russia, though "I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia] ... [and] I have confidence in both parties [U.S. intelligence and Putin]".


Trump: "President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today, and what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the [Mueller] people ... come and work with [Russian] investigators with respect to the twelve [GRU] people [indicted on Friday]."

Putin denies the Concord company is anything to with "the Russian state" and then adds in an equivalence: it is like George Soros, who spends his billions trying to alter foreign governments but doesn't act for the United States.

Putin: if the U.S. submits evidence on the GRU officials, Moscow will look into extraditing them, but only if the U.S. begins reciprocal processes to hand over Russians wanted by the Kremlin. Putin then denounces using relations with Russia as "the loose change" of politics

Putin says Trump maintained a strong position against recognising the annexation of #Crimea, and denies that the Kremlin has any "kompromat" on Trump. Putin laughs off the idea he knew who Trump was in 2013 or collected such material on all attendees at the Economic Forum.

Trump concludes by saying any compromising material would have been released long ago, that Peter Strzok is a disgrace [which is fair enough, though of unclear relevance], and the Mueller probe is "a total witch hunt".

The only possible consolation from Trump's press conference with Putin is that it wasn't quite as bad as one might have expected. But it was sufficiently awful: a refusal to condemn Russian behaviour directly, moral equivalence with the US, abject confusion on Syria. A disaster.

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