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Trump beholden to Putin? Summit does nothing to allay mark

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The US president fails to stand up for national interests during bewildering press conference

Donald Trump‘s news conference with Vladimir Putin will go down in biography as one of the most astonishing ever. The US president took Putin’s surface over that of his own intelligence community, and refused to acknowledge that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election.

When asked point-blank to condemn Moscow’s meddling in US democracy, Trump couldn’t bring himself to do so. For two years, Trump has faced claims that he was beholden to Russia and in some intangible direction even controlled under it. Monday’s press conference did nothing to banish this impression.

Hacking

The trickiest part of the summit concerned the Kremlin’s hacking of Democratic defendant emails, which were released in 2016 to damage Hillary Clinton when she was the party’s presidential nominee. Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor, on Friday alleged 12 Russian military intelligence officers of carrying it out. He passed granular detail in the prosecution of how the operation was done. On Monday, nonetheless, Trump refused to condemn the attack or even accept Russia was behind it. Instead, Trump said that both sides- Washington and Moscow- had” manufactured missteps “. He included:” I don’t see any reason why they[ the Russians] would have done it .”

Trump then propelled an attack on the FBI and wanted to know why it had failed to find Clinton’s ” missing” 33,000 emails. Trump was unable to move beyond the campaign rhetoric of 2016 or stand up for US national interests. His critics, includes the former CIA director John Brennan, saw this as nothing less than treason. If Trump is impeached, this clip will play in all subsequent TV dramata and films.

Extradition

One of the big questions pre-summit was whether Trump would call for the extradition to the US of the 12 Russian snoops indicted by Mueller. He didn’t. When the subject came up in the question and answer session, Putin sought to throw the accusation back. He “says hes” would investigate the report and even offered to ” cooperate “. The Kremlin, he said, would allow Mueller’s team to visit Moscow and to question doubts. In return, nonetheless, it wanted access to Bill Browder, a US-born British financier who is a Kremlin bogeyman. Putin was well aware that Mueller’s investigators won’t be call Russian anytime soon. He increased a similar render in 2006 to Scotland Yard following the radioactive murder of Alexander Litvinenko utilizing a cup of tea. The investigators who flew to Moscow found themselves in a PR pantomime, with their efforts to get evidence thwarted by the state.

Kompromat

Does Moscow have settlement information on Trump? The question has recurred the president since brochure, in January 2017, of the dossier by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Asked about this, Putin said he did not know Trump was in Moscow when the future US president saw Russia in 2013 for the Miss Universe beauty contest.” Please disregard these issues ,” he said. This was a classic non-denial answer. And a lie. Putin knew of Trump’s trip at the time, had tentative plans to meet him and direct Trump a endowment. Asked about kompromat, Trump said that if it did exist” it would have come out by now “.

Collusion

Trump again denied that there had been any collusion between his campaign and Russia. This was, he said, a sorry apology by the Democrats who should have won the election but is inadequate to do so. Plus, he said,” there was no one to collude with “. Putin agreed. He said there was no evidence. And added that Mueller’s assertions should be tested in court, rather than taken for granted. Even so, Putin induced one interesting admission. Asked if he craved Trump to prevail in 2016, he replied:” Yes, I did “. Russia’s president said he backed Trump as a candidate because Trump wanted to normalise relations with Russia. This is as close as Putin has come to admitting he preferred one candidate over the other.

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Key moments from the Trump-Putin press conference – video

The world

Putin’s opening announcement boasted a boilerplate roll of international issues- arms control, counter-terrorism, Iran, North Korea and Syria. He said a bilateral group of experts could meet to discuss international problems- including cybersecurity. Trump’s register was far shorter. He said nothing about Ukraine. The Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014, after Putin annexed Crimea and started a covert battle in the east of the country. Putin defended his decision to seize Crimea, while Trump stood silent. The US president likewise had nothing to say about the attempted slaying of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with the military-grade nerve agent novichok, or the apparently collateral death this month of Dawn Sturgess. Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, had explicitly expected Trump to raise the struggled homicide when she held talks with the US president last week- apparently in vain.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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