Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will be among the 20 world leaders gathering this week for an economic summit.
The two of them are going to meet for a full-blown bilateral summit in Hamburg, Germany. Do you know what that means? It means that the president of the United States will have a chance to confront the Russian president over the issue that has dominated the U.S. political discussion since the presidential inaugural.
No one has asked me for my opinion on this, but given that I write this blog and am entitled to offer it unsolicited, I’ll offer this bit of advice.
Mr. President, you need to cease this nicey-nicey talk about the Russians. They interfered in our 2016 electoral process and you need lay down the law much like your immediate predecessor did when he met with Putin in 2016.
I am not filled with supreme confidence that Trump will do that. He’s still a rookie on the world political stage. Sure, he’s been a “public figure” for decades, but this is quite unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
Trump has exhibited for months a maddening and outrageous reluctance to condemn the Russians for doing what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded: that the Russians hacked into our electoral system and sought to influence the 2016 election; they intended to help Trump defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton. I get that the success of that effort remains under intense debate. What’s not in question is that the Russians did something.
Trump’s reaction has been to give the Russians cover by suggesting that other nations could have meddled as well in our election. He even mentioned some “400-pound guy” lying on his bed … good grief!
This will be the first Trump-Putin meeting ever. These men have never been in the same room together — even though Trump once suggested he had met Putin once. Oh well, what’s another lie?
The planned sit-down meeting between these men also means it will get the worldwide attention it deserves. It will be “on the record.” It won’t be just one of those handshake pass-by events. These men will have an agenda from which to build their discussion.
My strong hope is that the Trump team will make damn sure the president brings up the Russian involvement in the 2016 election. If it remains an unmentionable, my strong hunch is that the president’s many critics here at home are going to reach some scathing conclusions about where this story goes from here.
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