World condemns Trump's praise for Putin

Morning Talk 18/07/2018
Photo: RTX

Donald Trump is copping flak in both his own country and internationally for seemingly accepting Russia’s denial of meddling in the 2016 US election.

Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this week, Mr Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but President Putin was incredibly strong in his denial,” Mr Trump said in a joint press conference.

Since that conference, Mr Trump has come out saying he misspoke – in other words, he doesn’t stand by what he said.

Robert Patman, Professor of International Relations at the University of Otago, believes Mr Trump is shocked by the attention he’s received after meeting with his Russian counterpart.

He told RadioLIVE’s Mark Sainsbury:  “[Mr Trump] is quite distinctive in the way he conducts himself. But I think even Mr Trump was taken aback, and this is a person who thrives on attention, by the firestorm that’s broken out internationally – and nationally in the United States, following his press conference with Mr Putin.

“He’s been particularly stung by comments from a former CIA director that his behaviour was treasonous, and also by a republican stalwart that his performance was disgraceful,” Prof Patman said.

Prof Patman says it reflects a “pattern” by Mr Trump, and isn’t a one off mistake.

“There are two huge problems, with the fact that he simply got one word wrong and that he’s a much misunderstood person. Firstly, on his way to the meeting with Putin, Mr Trump publically said that poor relations with Russia were essentially down to what he called the incompetence of the Obama administration, and what he also said was a witch hunt - a rigged witch hunt, to use Mr Trump’s words.

“So, Mr Trump went into the meeting with no doubts that the United States was the major culprit for the poor relationship with Russia,” Prof Patman told RadioLIVE.

“And if you look at the actual video clip, in which Mr Trump apparently sides with Mr Putin in blaming US intelligence services for the deteriorating relationship between the two countries, you will see that after he apparently misspoke, he goes on to say ‘and Mr Putin, he’s denial was very strong’. And again, if he really meant to say that Mr Putin would’ve had an interest in interfering then he wouldn’t have gone on to say ‘and his denial was very strong’.

“There’s no logical connection there,” said Prof Patman.

America's reaction to President Donald Trump siding with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies was swift and damning - and not just from the intelligence chiefs.

From CNN to Mr Trump's favourite channel Fox, the media were united in their condemnation of the President's dismissal of Russia interference in the election he won.

Anderson Cooper called it "perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American President".

Even Mr Trump's friends at Fox News - the only media outlet he seems to tolerate - were shocked, calling his comments "unbelievable".

On Twitter, former head of CIA John Brennan said the press conference performance was "nothing short of treasonous".

"Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin."

Listen to the full interview with Professor Robert Patman above.

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