Trump ignores facts in clearing Putin of election interference
© Getty Images

Say what you will about George W. Bush, one thing he didn’t seek to do after 9/11 was work with Osama bin Laden to combat terrorism.

Yet President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE seems very pleased to be working with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a person who has been Bashar al-Assad’s biggest supporter; has violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and murdered its people; has killed journalists and political opponents; has supported genocide in Sudan; has been brutal in terms of women’s rights and gay rights, and — oh, yeah — has undermined the democratic process in the United States.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed to want to make little of that last part. He said that, in their private meetings, the leaders concentrated on how they could “move forward.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump went even further, telling Putin it was “an honor” to be with him and that “we look forward to a lot of very positive happenings for Russia and the United States and everyone concerned.” Putin, for his part, said that he was “delighted” to be with Trump – a message he delivered while Trump looked on admiringly.

 

The tone of the meetings was so positive that, according to Russian state media, Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that Russia and the United States will be working together on cybersecurity.

Is this a joke?

Here we had an attack upon the American people and Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson are treating the man who orchestrated it with kid gloves.

Tillerson said that Trump “pressed” Putin on the issue of the attack, then “felt like, at this point, let’s talk about how do we go forward?”

I can answer that: We don’t.

After Pearl Harbor, we didn’t try to “go forward” with the Japanese because we understood we had to go against them.

Make no bones about: we were attacked and in an extremely serious way. It may not have been an attack with bombs and missiles, but it was an attack and it was devastating.

Trump’s supposed “pressing” of Putin reminded me of the scene with Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School, during which Dangerfield’s character, Thornton Melon, is accused of “academic fraud” by a professor played by Paxton Whitehead.

The dean of the school (portrayed by Ned Beatty), a strong fan of Melon’s who has been influenced by the student’s “financial generosity,” says that “Fraud is such an ugly word.”

He asks Dangerfield if the work he’s handed in is his own. “I cannot lie to you, Dean Martin,” Dangerfield says. “Yes it is.” The venal, obsequious dean happily replies, “I’m satisfied.”

Like Ned Beatty’s character, Trump downplayed Russia’s interference in our election at the G-20, stating that “nobody really knows” who engineered the hacking.

Well, nobody except our intelligence agencies — Russia’s FSB and GRU, the Russian agents who were celebrating Trump’s ascendency — and anyone with at least half a brain.

And now we’re supposed to work together with Putin?

Isn’t that like OJ looking for the “real killer?”

Another scene comes to mind:

In Evan Thomas’s biography of American naval icon John Paul Jones, Thomas describes an incident wherein Jones, who had been pillaging the British coast to strike fear into English hearts, encountered a British vessel. Jones and his men were all wearing British uniforms, so the opposing force mistook them for the UK gun ship, the Romney.

Jones’s ruse was so successful, that he convinced the captain of the British vessel to lend the Bonhomme Richard (Jones’s famed ship) a pilot to help Jones navigate the local waters. When the pilot came aboard, Jones asked him for the latest news, a common question among seamen.

The pilot explained that the “pirate” Paul Jones was about, and offered his opinion that such a miscreant ought to be hanged at the first opportunity. “I am Paul Jones,” Jones informed him, “...you are my prisoner.”

Vladimir Putin has lured Donald Trump in. But this time, the future of our democracy is being held captive.

Ross Rosenfeld is a political pundit who has written for Newsday, the New York Daily News, Charles Scribner's, MacMillan, Newsweek.com and Primedia.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.