Why didn’t President Trump criticise Putin at the summit?

Leading up to the Helsinki summit, the U.S. media had warned President Trump about his Russian counterpart and former KGB spy, Vladimir Putin. Given that a dozen of Russian officials were indicted for trying to interfere in the 2016 election, many suggested that it wasn’t sensible of Mr Trump to even go ahead with this event.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia"s President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018

Despite facing a great amount of pressure from his own party and allies, Trump refused to say a single word on the matters which are to be blamed for the current state of the US-Russia relations (Photograph: Reuters)

After nearly two hours of talks behind a closed door, Trump and Putin finally came in front of the press to publically address the issues they had discussed. First up, Mr Trump was asked by an American reporter to explain his tweet in which he blamed ‘both countries’ for strained US-Russia relations. President Trump stood by his earlier statement saying that both, the United States and Russia had made some mistakes damaging the bilateral ties, though he did not specifically mention any case.

Trump doesn’t Confront Putin!

When asked to explain what he had discussed with President Putin regarding the Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Donald Trump sided with his counterpart, stating that Russia had no reason to interfere. With this assertion, President Trump indicated that findings of his own intelligence were inaccurate. This claim of Mr Trump sparked criticism at home, including condemnation from within his own Republican Party.

John McCain, who serves as the Senator from the state of Arizona, said it one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. Other Republican Senators like Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham also commented negatively about Trump’s conduct and had called it ‘a bad day for America’.

Why didn’t Trump accuse Russia?

We’ve seen that President Trump is not afraid to take on the allied leaders like Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May publically, but when it came to President Putin, he simply didn’t seem comfortable doing so. Although it is hard to know why exactly Mr Trump was reluctant to confront President Putin in front of the press, one of the obvious reasons would be that any evidence of Russian interference in the election will delegitimize Trump’s win.

Another important factor that could’ve forced President Trump to avoid bringing up the issue of Russian meddling in the elections is that the US President might be planning for Russian help on North Korea, a country run by a totalitarian dictator with which the Russian government enjoys fruitful relations. Other than that, there is no other seemingly clear reason because of which President Trump would hesitate in confronting his Russian counterpart for interfering in the 2016 election.

 

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