There are times when even the highest-ranking government officials drop the mask of responsibility and show that they are also human beings capable of normal responses to unexpected events. How else could one explain the reaction of Daniel Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, when he heard that President Trump had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet in Washington this autumn?
Coats was so surprised when Andrea Mitchell from NBC interviewed the Aspen Security Forum in a television interview that he did exactly what the rest of the world was doing right now. He reacted in alarm: "Say that again?" There was no effort to hide the fact that he was as in the dark as anyone outside the government. "Did I hear you right?" He said with a laugh and too much laughter from the audience. And then about the possible meeting: "This will be something special."
This was a moment of lightness, but for the wrong reasons. The fact that the country's highest intelligence official did not know that an invitation to Putin, a foreign opponent, was in progress highlighted only the government's apparent malfunctioning in the most sensitive matters. Coat's response summed up a week in which ̵
From beginning to present, the meeting between Trump and Putin has produced one head-shaking statement after another, leaving experts in the government behind and confusing the world in general, to puzzle out exactly what happened during that time two leaders were together. It was a non-stop example of a president pursuing conflicting intentions with his staff and some ignorant officials.
Remember, before the Trump Putin meeting, government expectations were dampened. Jon Huntsman Jr., the US ambassador to Russia, said that this event should not be seen as a summit, but only as a "meeting". The President was also reluctant to describe the meeting. He said that there was no specific agenda for Helsinki, that it was a "loose meeting" and that his goal was really to get to know Putin better. He told CBS news anchor Jeff Glor, "I'm coming in with low expectations."
But according to Robert S. Mueller III, the special adviser supervising the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections filed a lawsuit against 12 Russian military intelligence agencies. While Trump cleared up a small mess in London on July 13 from an interview with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the "casual meeting" suddenly had a focus – and certainly not the one the President appreciated – President Trump and the Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of their meeting on Monday in the presidential palace in Helsinki. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)
However, the impact barely penetrated his consciousness, as it seemed when Cors Glor asked if Trump would urge Putin to hand over the 12 accused officers. "Well, I could," he replied, adding, "I did not really think about that."
The Helsinki Conference spoke for itself and the President's post-criticism was rather brutal. He and Putin had met for two hours, only by their translators. In public, the president refused to criticize the Russians for interfering and hinted that he agreed with Putin's denial more than the US secret service's conclusion on vicious Russian action in 2016.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Called it "one of the most shameful performances of an American president in memory." George Shultz, Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he linked McCain's assessment
For Trump, things did not get better or clearer, fast. The presidential walk of his press conference performance was slowly over, reluctantly delivered and embarrassing in his ultimate message. He said he accepted the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russians had intervened in 2016 and then moved away from the script to add, "Could other people be, there are a lot of people out there." Which is not exactly what what the secret services said.
The next morning there was another outcry when Trump answered "no" to a question as to whether he believed Coats had said this earlier week that the Russians were still targeting the US electoral system. The White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said that he said no to further questions at the photo shoot.
These were not the only confusing aspects of the post-summit news. After the two leaders left Helsinki, the Russians hinted that the meeting had produced some important agreements. Exactly what Trump and Putin agreed to or not remains a mystery. Other officials found it difficult to explain what Putin could talk about or why the president had called a meeting with little expectation and no specific agenda a success. When Coats was asked by Mitchell if he knew what happened between the two leaders during the two-hour one-to-one interview, he said no.
In addition to the secret, the president tweeted after arriving in the United States. While the NATO meeting in Brussels was a recognized triumph and member countries were able to raise billions of dollars faster, the meeting with Russia could turn out to be even more successful in the long run. Many positive things will come out of this meeting. "Of course, this happened around the same time as Trump, in an interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News, questioned US involvement in NATO Article 5, the call for common defense, for any member attacked by another country
There was also the bizarre handling of Putin's cynical "offer" to invite US and Russian officials to cooperate by coming to Russia to interview the accused military officers, including an appeal by the Russians to To interrogate or interrogate officials who, according to the Russians, intervened in their country, including Michael McFaul, the former ambassador to Russia.
When Putin mentioned this at the press conference, Trump responded by saying, "He offered to let the people working on the case come and work with their investigators in relation to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer.
Later on, Sanders was urged on by reporters when everyone was back in Washington. "The President will meet with his team, and we'll let you know if we have an announcement about it," she replied, doing it that way Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described the idea as "utterly absurd."
On Thursday, Senate 98-0 opposed all such talks, and Sanders made a statement to clarify the issue, even though this statement was formulated in a manner aimed at least offending Putin. "It is a proposal made sincerely by President Putin," it said in its statement "but President Trump disagrees. Hopefully President Putin will send the 12 identified Russians to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.
McFaul, for the record, does not consider the offer "sincere" and considers it desirable because the government warns much more strongly that such efforts by the Russians will seriously undermine the relationship between the two countries. [19659020ThestorycontinueswiththeupcomingfallvisitoftheRussianPresidentinWashingtontoberememberedinthelastweeksofoneofthemostmomentouselectionswhichprocesssparkedoffthisinvitationapparentlyevenbeforeafullassessmentwhichcouldgivewhathappenedinHelsinkiandprobablynotimeforthenationalsecurityteamofthePresidenttoweightheprosandconsofTrump'sdesireforasecondmeeting
Last Monday, Coats responded to comments from the President in Helsinki quickly and responded by clarifying that he was to the findings n the intelligence services and continued to provide the president with unvarnished assessments. His comments on Mitchell in Aspen on Thursday, apart from his reactions to Putin's invitation to come to Washington, underlined his willingness to publicly but politely agree with the president as he tried to live up to his promise to serve the country stay. He is not alone.
This is another measure of that time: a president and law enforcement officials work in separate tracks, and a White House employee is fighting to force a president to pass his own rules, whatever his counselor may think.