No one knows what President Trump told Vladimir Putin in Helsinki—or why even his own national-security adviser was excluded from the room.
As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to run the U.S. government in the same way he ran his businesses. At his Helsinki meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump honored that commitment.
According to the Russian government, Trump pledged the United States to a series of agreements on matters ranging from nuclear forces to Syria. The U.S. government seems to have no idea what those agreements might be—or whether they exist at all. It’s unclear whether even Trump himself knows what he promised or did not promise. Trump’s post-meeting tweets reference “implementing” things “discussed”—which implies some kind of agreement, but does not actually use the word.
The last episode of Trump’s personal diplomacy provides a disquieting precedent. Trump emerged from his meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un convinced he had gained dramatic new concessions. He tweeted triumphantly on June 13: “Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”