There was nothing remotely treasonous in Trump's performance with Putin

The over-the-top rhetoric about Monday’s Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki quickly reached the point of complete absurdity — from former CIA director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanBrennan shreds 'misleading & highly politicized' Barr memo Attorney General Barr puts former intel bosses on notice Iranian president: 'Situation is not suitable for talks' with US MORE (who once voted for the Communist Party’s presidential candidate) decrying Trump’s actions as treasonous and worthy of impeachment, to people equating it with Pearl Harbor or Kristallnacht

To all such people, spare me the pious hyperbolic sanctimony. 

Monday's press conference with Presidents Trump and Putin was not Trump’s best moment, and there were missed opportunities — but nothing even remotely treasonous or worthy of impeachment. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump should have been clear about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election (or previous elections, for that matter). He should have simply said, “Our intelligence agencies are convinced of Russian meddling, including the fact that such meddling did not alter the election outcome in any way. I want to make clear that I agree with our intelligence agencies’ assessment. I understand that the Russian government denies these allegations. While my predecessor did not deal with such infringements on the sovereignty of the American people, I will. Under my administration, meddling with our free and democratic elections from any quarter is unacceptable and will be stopped and punished should it happen again.” 

 

Period. End of story.

Trump also should have clarified that, while many of the men and women in our intelligence communities do good work, he firmly rejects the political nature of the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA under Loretta Lynch, James ComeyJames Brien ComeyAttorney General Barr puts former intel bosses on notice Christopher Steele's nugget of fool's gold was easily disproven — but FBI didn't blink an eye Clash with Trump marks latest break with GOP leaders for Justin Amash MORE, James ClapperJames Robert ClapperComey: 'The FBI doesn't spy, the FBI investigates' How I learned to love the witch hunt 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era MORE and Brennan, whose work has allowed people to run with the false narrative of collusion. He then could have gone on to say that great powers often have sharp disagreements but that shouldn’t prevent them from cooperating on issues of common concern.

On Tuesday, Trump amended his position in a statement to the press that has him affirming his confidence in his intelligence agencies and agreeing with them that the Russians meddled in our elections.  We’ll see if that puts the issue to rest. 

While we cannot trust Russia, shouldn’t trust Russia, people should step back, take a deep breath and get some perspective.

To all of those pounding the table like Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenPelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' The Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment MORE (D-Tenn.), declaring that the election-meddling was an act of war and we should respond in like manner, we probably already are. Seriously. 

You don’t think that we’re not working our own "statecraft" behind the scenes to keep Putin off balance? You don’t think Trump’s taking German Chancellor Angela Merkel to task over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline isn’t considered an aggressive act by Putin? About half of the Russian government’s revenue comes from oil and gas exports; Trump is trying to undercut Russia energy dominance in Europe, not only with his rhetoric on this most recent trip but also with his Three Seas Initiative speech last summer in Poland about energy independence for Central and Eastern Europe. These are direct shots at the heart of Putin’s power.

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for President George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority, which trains conservative political candidates and activists.