Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He pretended to cancel his next Putin meeting.

This afternoon, Trump sent John Bolton out to walk back his earlier invitation to Vladimir Putin to visit this fall. "The President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year," Bolton told reporters.

As Trump's own intelligence chief pointed out recently, the Putin regime is conducting ongoing attacks on the U.S. cyber-infrastructure, including infiltrations of the electrical power grid and, of course, disinformation campaigns and voting system hacking for the upcoming midterm elections.

Republicans in particular were horrified by the damage a Putin visit might do to their chances in those elections, and may have prevailed on Trump to change his mind. Terrible polling numbers in the wake of Trump's performance last week may have helped, too.

But Trump's "postponement" came a day after the Putin regime publicly rejected Trump's offer, leaving today's statement as little more than a face-saving measure.

It's still unclear why Trump announced the second summit so soon after the first, and without checking with Russia first, unless it was to undercut in real time an interview that his Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. Trump was reportedly enraged by what he saw as Coats having fun at his expense during a live-TV interview with Andrea Mitchell.

So what?

  • It's not Robert Mueller's fault that authoritarian regimes engaged in ongoing attacks on the United States are politically unpopular.
  • Even a normal state visit usually wouldn't be announced without checking with the other country first.
  • When Trump embarrasses himself, he also hurts the dignity and prestige of the United States.