President Trump’s astonishing news conference Monday with Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, was as remarkable for what was said as what wasn’t.
“The disagreements between our two countries are well known and President Putin and I discussed them at length today,” Trump said in Helsinki, Finland. “But if we’re going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we’re going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests.”
Trump spent the rest of the news conference highlighting areas of cooperation between the two countries while lambasting his own FBI and blaming the poor state of U.S.-Russia relations on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, Democrats, and Hillary Clinton. The coup de grâce against American interests came when Trump said he believed Putin’s assurances that he didn’t interfere in the election—and refused to validate the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that say otherwise.
The list of things that Tump didn’t bring up publicly was startling in its own right—a list that includes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its continued support of pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine; its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s brutal years-long conflict; its alleged use of a nerve agent to target a former Russian spy and his daughter living in the U.K.; its terrible treatment of Russian civil-society groups and news organizations; and its alleged interference in elections across Europe.