The rumors of President Donald Trump’s shady connections to Russia popped up even before he was elected in 2016. Since he took office, there have been numerous reports of Trump’s campaign and staff having mysterious meetings, conversations, and negotiations with Russian officials and liaisons. These reports have divided conservatives and liberals completely, with conservatives thinking that the Russia rumors are complete fabrications by those in the media who wish to destroy Trump. Liberals on the other hand believe that it’s possible that Trump himself is completely beholden to Russia and its ruthless leader Vladimir Putin. I believe the truth may be somewhere in between, but to me it has become very obvious that Trump’s relationship with Russia and Putin goes far beyond normal foreign diplomacy. Trump furthered those suspicions on Monday when he met privately with Putin. There were no other Americans present, and what was really discussed may never be known because Trump himself is the only one that can report on what happened in that meeting. For some conservatives, this meeting was something that was indefensible. It seems like it could be a new low for this presidential administration.
Trump emerged from his summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland on Monday to have a joint press conference with both leaders speaking. What followed was a stunning admission on Trump’s part that he believes the words of Putin over that of his own intelligence community. In 2017, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed to the head of a Special Counsel investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The counsel has already indicted former Trump campaign officials Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates. Last Friday, the counsel indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials who are accused of hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and releasing them to the public to damage the reputation of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This was one of the first times the American people have gotten a better insight into exactly how the Russians meddled in the election. On Monday, Trump flatly sided with Putin and claimed he was sure that Russia had nothing to do with election interference.
“The Russian state has never interfered, and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including in the election process,” Putin said.
“There was no collusion at all…President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I’ll say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said while standing at a lectern next to Putin. “We’re all to blame.”
Of course, the American public exploded after this meeting, taking to social media to voice their concerns and criticisms over what was said at the press conference. What was more interesting to me was how some republicans who have been hesitant to criticize President Trump reacted.
“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said in a statement. “[Russia] remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.” He added that there’s “No question” that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who has seldom criticized Trump in any way said he has “Complete confidence in our intelligence community and their findings.” He added, “The Russians are not our friends.”
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.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) July 16, 2018
Where our country goes from here is unclear. I’d say I’m encouraged by Republicans coming out to criticize our president for his brazen disregard for US intelligence officials, but unless they actually use the system of checks and balances that they’re in control of to rein in the president it will all just seem like hot air. This Russia thing has become so polarizing that it seems like many conservatives will just bury their head in the sand and go along with whatever Trump says as absolute gospel. It’s also up to liberals to be patient and not expect Mueller to slap handcuffs on Trump himself. This is going to be a long, drawn out process and the only way to get Trump out of office will probably be to go and vote in 2020. It’s not an easy answer, and it’s disheartening to see our democracy so closely tied to a regime in Russia that is murderous and tyrannical. For now though, it’s important to remember that the wheels of politics grind slowly. Nothing can happen overnight. If there really was collusion and interference that the Trump campaign participated in, all we can do is hope that one day it comes to light and justice is done.