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The Trump-Putin chat: what the heck just happened?



Do you know what happened between Trump and Putin in their little chat about RussiaGate? I sure don’t—and I’ve heard and read just about all the news there is.

Trump said multiple things:

In a tweet: “I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He strongly denied it.”

To a direct question: “Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people…”.

Also in a tweet: it’s “time to move forward” in a constructive United States relationship with Russia.

Putin’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said: “U.S. President Trump said that he heard firm assertions from Russian President Putin that it is not true and that Russian authorities have not meddled in the elections. He (Trump) said that he accepts these assertions.”

Putin himself said, “He asked me many questions on the subject [and] it seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers.”

Trump’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, said: Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections…And I think President Putin did exactly what we thought he would do, which is deny it. This is Russia trying to save face. And they can’t.”

So, was Trump “satisfied” with Putin’s denials, or wasn’t he? We can infer only a few things: that Trump did indeed bring up the subject (which, by the way, is being portrayed by his surrogates as a major achievement when, in fact, if he hadn’t, he would have been lacerated for it in America, including by his own Republicans). We can also infer that Putin said, in effect, “I didn’t do anything, Donald.” And finally, we know (because Trump himself said so), Trump believes it’s “time [for Americans] to move on” and put RussiaGate behind us, as if anyone in this country—Republican or Democrat—beyond the most embittered core of the tea party believes that.

So it’s all quite confusing, which is according to the Trump playbook: lie, obfuscate, contradict, make stuff up, mix a little truth in with the falsehoods, dodge and shift, put up smokescreens, cite “alternative facts”it’s Trump’s standard shell game: say anything and everything: up is down, north is south, stop is go—an Orwellian use of language with one purpose in mind: so people will take from the news what they want—which, of course, undermines the entire notion of “objective reality.”

As for why the Russians would cooperate in such a strategy of disinformation, well, if you have to ask…

Look: it used to be—always was—that, following a summit meeting like this, all reporting was on the same page. Here’s what Krushchev said; here’s what Kennedy said. Everybody knew where each side stood. You might agree with one side or the other, but at least the facts were not in doubt. The Congress could have a rational debate, so could America’s allies, the voters could decide for themselves, and the free press in America could take credit for furthering the Founders’ vision, expressed in the First Amendment, promising “freedom of the press.”

Donald Trump knows that in order to overturn the Founders’ vision, and to promote his own presidency, possibly beyond a second term, and to promote the interests of his family, possibly to succeed him, and to destroy Americans’ confidence in the integrity of the nation’s institutions, and to erode the ability of those institutions to provide checks and balances on his power, and on the power of the billionaire class he represents, and to further Russia’s interests, and for God only knows whatever other dark motives he has, he must first eradicate the notion of “objective truth.” Once he does that, all the other things will then come to pass. And, so far, it seems to be working out for him.

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    When I saw the first headline about the Trump-Putin meeting, I said to my wife that this is probably how it went:
    DT: Vlad, did Russia meddle in the US election?
    VP: No, Don, we didn’t.
    DT: OK, good enough for me. That’s settled.

  2. I think that’s pretty much how it sent down.

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