Is Trump putting Putin first, America second?

This isn't the first time Trump has sided with Putin over U.S. officials. CNN's Jake Tapper reports.

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 5:09 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 5:14 PM

Confronted with a true alpha male in Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump -- who likes to talk tough -- turned into a fawning beta in Helsinki, Finland, abandoning American interests in favor of appeasing the man who allegedly attacked the integrity of the 2016 presidential election.

Though Vice President Mike Pence praised the President's performance, saying Trump "stands without apology as the leader of the free world," his analysis could not have been further from the truth.

It was, as Sen. John McCain observed, "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory." McCain added that, "No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant."

Unique as it was for a president to show such weakness, Trump's display of cowardice was wholly consistent with a man who believed his military high school was equal to true service in the armed forces and who declared his sexual experiences during the HIV/AIDS crisis tantamount to duty in the Vietnam War.

Anyone who expects anything different hasn't been paying attention to how Trump behaves when face-to-face with strong individuals. He likes to talk a big game, but when he's dealing with anyone he deems of importance, he's prone to appeasement and capitulation.

Recall Trump in the days after racists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, where police said one of them killed an innocent woman by ramming his car into a crowd on a city street. Unable to muster the moral fortitude to condemn the fringe elements of his political base, Trump repeatedly said "both sides" were to blame for the tragedy that unfolded. Of course, the reality is rather different: One side marched with tiki torches, shouting racist chants. The other challenged the hate with calls for tolerance. The sides were not equal, and it was a peace activist who lost her life.

After caving in Charlottesville, Trump was met with demands from the Parkland student activists, who wanted answers and action after living through a tragic mass shooting. Face-to-face with students who meant business, he briefly abandoned his strict pro-gun position and pledged to work for sensible gun control. He even noted how some lawmakers are captive to the National Rifle Association. Days later, after his own meeting with the NRA, he knuckled under, lost the courage of his convictions and abandoned both the kids and his promise.

As weak as he is at home, Trump is even weaker with foreign leaders. Do you recall how the President mocked North Korea's Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" and promised a "fire and fury" response to any future provocations with rockets or nuclear tests? Trump then proceeded to court Kim for a so-called summit in Singapore. There he gave the dictator the legitimacy he craved and promised to cut back on American military exercises in the region. What did America get in return? He'd argue the return of hostages and no missiles fired, but there remains to be any real steps taken toward denuclearization.

Trump isn't much braver when he picks fights with world leaders who wish America no harm. He used an interview with the British tabloid The Sun to bash Prime Minister Theresa May, and boost her rival Boris Johnson, but when in the same room with her, he backed down. With a familiar cry of "fake news," the President humiliated himself by retreating in the Prime Minister's presence.

As profiles in cowardice go, however, nothing Trump has done is as bad as his treatment of Putin. With the indictments of Russian agents piling up, Trump prefaced his session in Helsinki by tweeting "to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past -- as the world's two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018" As the injured party in the 2016 election attack, America should demand accountability, not normalcy, but Trump's words echoed with the sound of guilt.

What Trump actually cares about is the shadow that the Russian hackers cast over the election that saw him become president. He made this clear by repeatedly telling the press in Helsinki there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Moscow. He pitifully pointed to his Electoral College victory and talked about his long-vanquished rival, Hillary Clinton. (Ignoring the fact that she won the popular vote, he said, "I beat Hillary Clinton easily and, frankly, we beat her," he said. "We won that race, and it's a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it.")

Trump is so afraid of the truth about that little cloud that he essentially said he believed Putin instead of his own intelligence agencies, which have repeatedly declared the Russians did it. "They think it's Russia," he said. "I have President Putin -- he just said it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be." Trump welcomed Putin's offer, made with a crocodile smile, to help investigate the election trouble.

As much as Trump spoke like a leader over-eager to please, his body language suggested a cowering respect for Putin as the kind of manly man Trump wishes he could be. Putin rarely smiled and, when Trump praised him for the successful World Cup tournament, he barely acknowledged the compliment. When asked directly about whether the Russian state possessed compromising information about Trump -- kompromat is the term of art -- Putin wouldn't explicitly say "no."

With his equivocating on krompromat, Putin made sure Trump will feel insecure and weak as he contemplates the future. It was a brilliant bit of gamesmanship, but then again, the world didn't need any more evidence of Trump's insecurity and weakness.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 895229

Reported Deaths: 9462
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1749772017
Ramsey722701040
Dakota66032572
Anoka62513568
Washington39357355
Stearns32821275
St. Louis28761399
Wright25354211
Scott25329181
Olmsted21750127
Sherburne18478126
Carver1629166
Clay11923103
Blue Earth1126366
Rice11234138
Crow Wing11003122
Chisago974676
Kandiyohi9660106
Otter Tail9611126
Benton8815124
Beltrami801794
Goodhue786596
Douglas7689100
Itasca752796
Mower721349
Winona702756
McLeod694483
Isanti681383
Steele669431
Morrison663479
Becker620873
Polk591684
Freeborn550846
Carlton529474
Nobles521654
Lyon518761
Mille Lacs516573
Nicollet510960
Pine500641
Cass491252
Todd483642
Brown465057
Le Sueur445933
Meeker422357
Martin378143
Wabasha366010
Waseca365132
Dodge351511
Hubbard349848
Roseau307931
Fillmore299115
Wadena298239
Redwood277845
Houston266817
Renville264151
Faribault253032
Pennington247529
Sibley246917
Kanabec241536
Cottonwood225032
Chippewa216342
Aitkin215850
Pope203210
Watonwan194920
Yellow Medicine185423
Rock174728
Swift169322
Koochiching168123
Stevens164511
Jackson159216
Clearwater155720
Marshall151122
Murray150911
Pipestone148329
Lake129824
Lac qui Parle120025
Wilkin119416
Mahnomen104714
Norman10389
Grant9719
Big Stone9365
Lincoln8705
Kittson71523
Red Lake70710
Traverse5996
Unassigned572124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3020

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
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