Anderson Cooper: Trump performance disgraceful

After a joint news conference with President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, CNN's Anderson Cooper called Trump's performance "disgraceful."

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 12:18 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 12:37 PM

Since the Second World War -- spanning 14 US presidents, Republican and Democratic -- the occupant of the Oval Office has been referred to as "the leader of the free world." Until now.

And though, on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence stated after the Helsinki summit that President Donald Trump "stands without apology as leader of the free world," his words could not be further from the truth.

Over his 18 months in office, Trump has surrendered that mantle without a mandate to do so. Trump's impulse is to echo Russian President Vladimir Putin's talking points and advance his agenda, even as elements of his administration attempt to push back to protect longstanding American interests.

Time and again the world has witnessed what journalist Luke Harding describes in his book "Collusion" as Trump's "weirdly deferential behavior toward Putin -- his singular reluctance to criticize, his boundless willingness to appease, his desire for face time."

This past week offered new lows in this shameful dance on the world stage, capped by what Anderson Cooper diagnosed as a "disgraceful" performance at Helsinki, in which Trump was more critical of Democrats and his own Justice Department than of Putin or Russia.

In the days before his largely unsupervised chat with Putin in Helsinki, Trump attacked our NATO allies at a Belgian summit, suggesting the US could "go our own way." He nonsensically blamed President Barack Obama for Russia's invasion of Crimea, insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, undercut embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit and described the European Union as a "foe" of the United States.

After his own Justice Department indicted 12 more Russian agents for interfering in his favor in the 2016 election, Trump again attacked the investigation as a "rigged witch hunt" and blamed American "foolishness and stupidity" for our bad relationship with Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted with cold approval: "We agree."

This litany of insults is surreal and not a little bit sinister. But we can't say we weren't warned. After all, the 2017 US Intelligence Assessment on Russian activities and intentions in the 2016 elections made it clear that "the Kremlin sought to advance its longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, the promotion of which Putin and other senior Russian leaders view as a threat to Russia and Putin's regime."

This Russian desire has been met with unexpected ardor from the American President.

This love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name was again apparent at the press conference after the Helsinki meeting, when Trump went off-teleprompter to echo his post-Charlottesville script, declaring "both countries accountable" for US-Russia tensions and again denied the validity of the Mueller investigation, calling it baseless and "ridiculous."

Trump took the unprecedented step of taking the word of an autocratic leader of a hostile foreign power over his own Director of National Intelligence, stating that he did not see "any reason why it would be" Russia who hacked the DNC servers. This was music to Putin's ears, who grinned like a cat digesting a canary, while stating, "we have to be guided by facts and not by rumors."

The most innocent explanation for Trump's determined outbursts -- and his disconnect from broader bipartisan American policy interests -- is that he has isolationist instincts and admires authoritarian leaders. But that marks something much more dangerous than simply a disruption of the status quo.

Some might ask whether Trump's imagined new world order really represents a threat to American values. Only if you believe in individual rights, civil liberties and the strength of multi-lateral liberal democratic coalitions as a bulwark against ethno-nationalist autocracy.

Amid all the upheaval, it's worth remembering that Trump won the election with just under 78,000 votes in three states -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. It is unlikely that those voters were betting on an abandonment of American values in favor Russian interests.

What is equally stunning is the spinelessness of Republican leaders in standing up for the principles their party has stood for from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan to both George Bushes. This is not a president who cares about advancing a "freedom agenda."

Senate Republicans willing to stand up to the President's worst instincts are an endangered species: John McCain is battling brain cancer; Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are not running for re-election; Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio are willing to pipe up when the insults to the Reagan Legacy are particularly egregious and only Ben Sasse is a consistent Senate critic from a rising generation.

Many others recognize the danger, but are unwilling to take on their base by criticizing the President in public. Whatever short-term political expediency they gain will represent a lasting stain on their name.

Helsinki will be remembered, in the words of John King, as "the surrender summit." The defining fight of our time will be to defend diverse liberal democracy at home and abroad -- and we will have to do it without the help of this American President.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604509

Reported Deaths: 7638
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249671779
Ramsey52513897
Dakota46840471
Anoka42774458
Washington27428291
Stearns22557225
St. Louis18138313
Scott17551136
Wright16379149
Olmsted13399102
Sherburne1202095
Carver1067448
Clay826192
Rice8202110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619952
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475581
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459763
Isanti440064
McLeod430661
Morrison424762
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347033
Pine334923
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163323
Fillmore157610
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122712
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371101

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58263640
Linn21221339
Scott20308248
Black Hawk16157312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13510211
Dallas1129199
Pottawattamie11228174
Story1071648
Warren583791
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517574
Webster515894
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486976
Des Moines467672
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268240
Benton259855
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198735
Page194522
Buchanan194033
Cedar192423
Hardin187544
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
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Grundy137233
Emmet135841
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Sac130920
Union130035
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Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
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Howard105022
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Unassigned9540
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Davis85225
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Greene78011
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