While Special counsel Robert Mueller and a congressional committee continue to investigate Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election on Donald Trump’s behalf, the President is repeating a familiar refrain. He’s defending his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Trump and Putin’s latest meeting was reportedly limited to the two leaders sharing some informal talks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Vietnam.
“He said he didn’t meddle,” Trump told a group of reporters while in Vietnam Saturday. “You can only ask him so many times ... He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”
In this case, the “they” Trump is referring to would be the FBI and the CIA and both agencies collective assessment that Russia interfered with the 2016 Presidential Election in order to help Trump win. The former reality show host lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, but still won the 304 Electoral College votes necessary to become the 45th President. While Trump tours Asia, probes are being conducted on possible collusion between various Trump associates and Russian operatives.
The topic of Trump and Putin’s ongoing bromance came up after the Kremlin released an official statement saying the two presidents “confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS (the Islamic State) in Syria.”
According to David Jackson of USA Today, when pressed further about allegations of Putin influencing the election, Trump responded by saying, “Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him. I would rather have him get out of Syria.”
After dropping that diplomatic gem, Trump was summarily flamed on Twitter.
I love that Trump-Putin is trending and people’s heads are about to explode over an informal meeting of 2 world leaders. It’s as if Trump paid Russia $12 million for some fake information and colluded with them in a failed attempt to help the opposition lose.— COVFEFE WHITE GIRL (@CLK54321) November 10, 2017
Q: Why is Trump dress up like Putin?— Susan Ross (Resister (@SusanNow3) November 11, 2017
A: Because Trump is meeting his Puppet master. pic.twitter.com/P3G8PYRGYe
Just yesterday, Russian state media was reporting that "according to sources," Trump admin was asking Putin for a meeting, trying to set it up for 2 months straight - and that both Putin & Trump were "prepared" for a meeting. https://t.co/4VMACnHO6W— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) November 10, 2017
After meeting Trump at the G20, Putin had this exchange with a reporter— Ubadah Sabbagh (@Neubadah) November 11, 2017
Putin: We didn't meddle, ask Trump.
Reporter: But WH hasn't released any info.
Putin *laughs*: We'll talk to the WH and tell them to fix that. pic.twitter.com/CQkJd1FgDi
Your Saturday morning headline essentially boils down to the man who penned The Art of the Deal, struggling to make an actual deal with someone who allegedly helped him rig an election he barely won. Putin has been accused of war crimes including the alleged 1999 Russian apartment bombings that ignited the Second Chechen War. So if you add in the layer of Putin potentially helping Trump diffuse the Syrian conflict, you end up with a storyline that sounds as if it were copied and pasted from The Onion.