President Trump drew considerable fire following his post-summit press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. With mainstream media commentators labeling his remarks everything from disgraceful to treasonous, the President soon endeavored to clarify his stance with regard to the Russian leader.
In an interview with CNBC later in the week, President Trump pledged that if his diplomatic overtures do not bear fruit, he will be “the worst enemy” and “worst nightmare” Putin has ever had.
Expresses guarded optimism about relationship
Despite his forceful language about how he intends to proceed should Putin prove unwilling to productively engage with the United States, Trump expressed his expectation that the relationship will in fact be a positive one in the coming years.
Though acknowledging the widespread belief among numerous U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia actively attempted to interfere with the 2016 election, Trump explained that he now has a valuable opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the two nations.
Comments follow boisterous media outcry
Trump’s tough talk on Putin comes on the heels of a boisterous backlash from numerous political pundits and media outlets that lambasted the President’s performance in Helsinki and his seemingly weak language concerning Russian meddling. Referencing the ongoing Mueller investigation in possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, NBC’s Chuck Todd tweeted:
Today’s performance will be seen by some as circumstantial evidence.
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) July 16, 2018
Senator John McCain, never shy about lambasting Trump, referred to the press conference as “disgraceful.”
Today’s press conference in #Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) July 16, 2018
Criticism of predecessor’s approach
In defending his remarks, Trump denounced his Oval Office predecessor’s handling of Russia, referring to President Barack Obama as having been a “total patsy” in this regard. He went on to claim that his administration has been considerably tougher in dealing with Russia than all others in recent memory, citing new financial sanctions and the expulsion of Russian diplomats in March.
As support for this contention, Trump referred to the “hot mic” moment when Obama promised then-Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev that he would enjoy greater “flexibility” once he secured re-election in 2012.
Bold next steps planned
Forging ahead with his philosophy that it is better to establish solid ties with Russia than to engage in the major confrontation he believes the mainstream media wish to see, Trump has indicated that he intends to invite Putin to Washington this fall.
It appears as though plans for such a visit are already underway, with National Security Adviser John Bolton engaging in preliminary discussions. These developments underscore Trump’s commitment to the notion that while numerous problems exist between the United States and Russia, “they can all be solved.”