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Trump’s ‘negotiating tactics’ could make the G7 a G6

Trump is doing a tremendous job of isolating America, and if that’s his goal, you do it, Trump!

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Trump’s intentions relative to the agenda of the G7 meeting in Quebec were openly not much different from the tone that he has been playing on trade and multilateralism for the past few months. Prior to the meeting, Trump continued with his hardball rhetoric, particularly regarding Canada, in terms of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with Trump threatening to withdraw from the agreement if he doesn’t reach a better deal at the G7 summit.

Trump has also set himself at odds with every other member of the G7 through his tariffs regime, such as those tariffs on aluminum and steel that went into effect for Canada, Mexico, and the EU at the beginning of June, the threat of sanctions for European G7 members who choose to continue doing business with Iran, and the threat of coming under sanctions aimed at Russia for buying Russian oil and gas, also aimed at some of the G7’s European members.

So, for Trump, the board was already set, and his strategy was going to continue after this fashion even after the summit was over. For America, the summit had one goal: better deals for America, or no deals at all. For everyone else, this means that trade tensions are only set to continue this course of escalation. Oh, and that America is not going to participate in any measures to address climate change.

It seems to be a common perception among conservatives that the nuclear fallout from Trump’s economic and diplomatic policies are merely a ‘negotiating tactic’ with the aim of really forcing the other party to capitulate to Trump’s demands, as in some kind of 4-D chess strategy, where he will ensure that he will ‘win’. Of course, for Trump, to ‘win’ means that everyone else must ‘lose’.

But this is not diplomacy, it’s like trying to negotiate with the mafia, where Trump offers a deal that other countries ‘can’t refuse’. But what Trump doesn’t realize is that America’s position in all of this is a monetary one, wherein America’s purchase of other nation’s goods is part of how America ensures its ability to stay on top of the world order, by using the dollar and American financial systems to keep everyone else in line. But by isolating America from everyone else, he reduces the amount of the dollars that he is exporting, thereby reducing America’s control over the world market. He’s not checkmating everyone else, he’s backing himself into a corner.

Trade

Trump walked into the meeting late as the discussion centered around gender equality, an issue that seems to become ever more discombobulated, which has become a major talking point in popular cultural circles and the major media the world over. As the topic turned to trade, arguably the most important topic to be covered by the summit, Trump talked about free and mutually beneficial trade, that is, of course, as long as America benefits the most.

That’s why Trump defended his tariffs regime, and threatened those nations to whom they were directed relative to any retaliations, slamming them as ‘a big mistake’, hence, in Trump’s mind, America gets to issue tariffs out to the rest of the world to even out a ‘trade deficit’ and that everyone else must keep calm and take it, or else Trump will escalate the matter, perceiving that the deficit can’t be shored up unless America can achieve a better equilibrium through tariffs and wherein the tariffed nations forgo any response. For Trump, it’s a way of leveling the playing field, as reported by the Guardian:

In a tense session on trade on Friday, European and Canadian leaders had sought to defuse the gathering conflict, rolling out statistics on how many US jobs depended on their countries’ trade and investment and arguing that the US had more barriers to trade than its partners.

The discussion had no effect on Trump, who stuck to the claims he made throughout his election campaign: that the US was being ripped off.

“The European Union is brutal to the United States,” he railed. “And they understand that. They know it. When I’m telling them, they’re smiling at me. You know, it’s like the gig is up.”

Canada too, the president said, “can’t believe it got away” with its trade deal with the US.

“We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing. And that ends,” Trump said.

The president even threatened to stop doing business with US partners if they did not change their policies.

“And it’s going to stop,” Trump said. “Or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it.”

But one thing that we have noticed about Trump’s rhetoric and actions as of late, that he tends to make good on his threats. While often times likes to leave the door open to another possible outcome, there nearly always is a pretext to following through on his threats. We saw this with the threat to withdraw from the Iran deal, which he made good on, with his threats to launch a military offensive in Syria, which he went forward to conduct, however controlled, and his threats relative to the tariffs that he went forward to impose, and with his initial threat to withdraw from the North Korea peace talks, which are still under threat, as he continues to warn that he will walk away from that summit, too, if he doesn’t think he’s gonna ‘win’.

Based on this track record, while he tends to follow through on these threats, they’re not always of an all encompassing outcome, they are carried out in order to save his tough guy face, but do not always sink in the teeth necessary to do much damage in every case. But with the Iran deal, he’s still trying to nuke that by threatening sanctions on the other signatories for preserving the conditions necessary to preserve the agreement. Based on his present actions and rhetoric, he’s not measuring his tariffs regime all that much, as he continues to dole out ever more of them, and follow through on implementing them.

Diplomacy

But the manner in which Trump treated the summit and its agenda is what is most revealing. As we gather from repeated statements from Trump’s own mouth, he isn’t much into multilateralism, and prefers bilateral agreements. Before the summit, he was clear that he thinks it’s better that an agreement is not made, that is, a multilateral agreement with an indefinite lifespan.

This is apparently because he wants to preserve the ability to make, break, and revise agreements whenever it suits him, hence, the desire to leave such doors open for America, rather than locking it into some agreement with multiple other nations, meaning international obligations without an expiration date, or least one that can readily be met.

In this way, Trump is running America into the iceberg of isolationism, believing that the USS America is truly unsinkable. His trade policies and approach to multilateral agreements have been wrecking relations with his allies at ramming speed.

That’s why we see the Canadian Prime Minister closing out the meeting with a press conference announcing that he was regretfully moving forward with his retaliatory trade tariffs against the US, adding that Trump’s pretext of issuing his trade tariffs against Canada and other trade partners on the basis of ‘national security’ were ‘insulting’.

Due to Trudeau’s remarks, Trump instructed his representatives who remained behind at the summit for the purpose of ascribing Trump’s endorsement of the comminuque that would be issued by the summit not to do so, meaning that America was not going to sign onto the agreement because Trudeau said something mean and because of some tariffs that Canada charges the US.

Apparently, coming to terms with the important items that the summit was to cover is not quite as important as everyone being nice to Trump by not saying any mean words, or that one trade scenario that has existed for some time is considerably more important than the internationally significant matters that were on the table for resolution by the summit’s statement. Deutsche Welle reports:

Leaders of the G7 appeared to have agreed on a final communique at the end of a contentious two-day summit in Canada on Saturday, before US President Donald Trump lashed out at Canada and created further uncertainty over trade.

The summit between the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Britain and Italy was one of the most fractious ever, and the agreement on a final communique could not paper over differences on trade, the environment and Iran nuclear deal.

Despite Trump’s recent decision to slap aluminum and steel tariffs on America’s allies, the statement at the conclusion of the summit called for the “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade,” fighting protectionism and “the crucial role of a rules-based international trading system.”

Yet a deep rift was highlighted as host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended the summit by saying he would move forward with retaliatory tariffs against the United States starting on July 1. He called US tariffs on its ally under the pretext of national security “kind of insulting” and said Canada would not be “pushed around.”

“What we did this weekend was come together, roll up our sleeves and figure out a consensus language that we could all agree to,” Trudeau said at a press conference, recognizing that there were major differences with Trump. “If the expectation was that a weekend in beautiful Charlevoix surrounded by lovely people was going to transform the president’s outlook on trade and the world, then we didn’t quite perhaps meet that bar.”

Only hours later Trump took to Twitter to assault the Canadian prime minister’s “false statements” and instructed US representatives to renege on the US endorsement of the joint communique. He also said he would be looking to impose tariffs on car imports into the United States.

By these tweets, Trump expressed his pretext for refusing to endorse the internationally agreed upon statement, by his allies and trade partners, and which Trump had initially approved before his departure. He also tells us that Trudeau’s mean comments were uttered behind his back, after he departed the summit in order to make his way to Singapore, where he is set to meet with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, on the long awaited peace talks that he is to help facilitate.

But apparently, Trudeau’s comments were nothing new, nor were the sentiments that they conveyed something that Trump was ignorant of, thus, the concept that these ‘dishonest’ and ‘false’ statements were of such a nature could be perceived as absurd, and that’s apparently the reason why Trudeau’s office responded “We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the G7 summit. The Prime Minister said nothing he hasn’t said before — both in public, and in private conversations with the President.” Trudeau’s comments, we can therefore gather, were the reason why he refused to endorse the communique, as France24 tells us


…When Trump left Quebec it was thought that a compromise had been reached, despite the tension and determination of European leaders President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to push back on Trump’s assault on the world trade system.

The joint statement was published online moments before Trump tweeted. Copies that begin “We, the Leaders of the G7…” were distributed in the press room stamped “Approved.”

On board Air Force One an AFP reporter was first told that Trump had indeed approved the agreement, only to be told later of the tweets. A senior administration official told the reporter that Trump had been angered by Trudeau’s comments.

The outburst suggested that any deal had collapsed and his more or less explicit threat to impose sanctions on imports of cars will outrage his ostensible allies — in particular Germany and Canada who produce many for the large US market.

In retrospect, the consensus on ground had appeared shaky from the outset, and even as Trump flew out it was clear that the summit had failed to heal the rift on trade.

Trump claimed America had been obliged to levy the metals tariffs as it has been exploited as the world’s “piggy bank” under existing arrangements, but his counterparts were equally determined to protect “rules-based” international trade.

As Trump’s policies have been putting America’s relations with the rest of the Western world into a bit of a fray, the situation was not alleviated by Trump’s participation in the summit, given that he later withdrew his approval of the international statement, but is only perpetuated by it. The outcome, however, was not unanticipated, as French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned via Twitter


Macron points out the obvious, but also gives a warning, that if America insists on isolating itself, then everyone else will move forward without it. In that sense, rather than making America ‘great’ or ‘first’ Trump is putting America last on the international pecking order. By refusing to participate in the communique issued by the other members of the G7, Trump is reducing the level of influence that America wields, a generalized phenomenon which is by this action further deteriorating it among America’s own allies and trade partners. America won’t cooperate on trade, non proliferation agreements, climate accords, or any other sort of agreement between America and the rest of the West, and its relations with the rest of the world aren’t getting any better either. Trump is doing a tremendous job of isolating America, and if that’s his goal, you do it, Trump! Maybe then the rest of the world will pay attention to your activities in the Middle East, and elsewhere, and their real world consequences.

 

 

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Mueller indictment of Russian GRUs 100 percent political theater (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 56.

Alex Christoforou

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United States Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein admitted there was no collusion between these supposed Russian GRU agents and any Americans.  That is momentous.  It means that even Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are admitting that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to leak the DNC/Podesta emails.

Mueller claims that Wikileaks got the DNC/Podesta emails from Guccifer 2.0 (the online persona supposedly created by the 12 GRU officers Mueller has indicted) but says nothing about Wikileaks having any knowledge that Guccifer 2.0 had anything to do with Russia.

Of course this indictment will never be tested in Court. For all we know Mueller has combined information about how the DNC/Podesta computers were hacked with names of certain officers known to work for certain departments of the GRU to give the impression of a much stronger case against them than he really has.

The key point is that even on his indictment it is now clear that there was NO collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to leak the DNC/Podesta emails, which calls into question why this investigation is continuing.

Remember that the key bite behind this indictment is the collusion allegation.  With this indictment and with Rosenstein’s words at his news conference, Mueller and Rosenstein have come closer than ever before to admitting that no collusion took place.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize the real motivation an meaning behind Robert Mueller’s Russian GRU indictment. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile during the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down with Deep State shill, Fox News’ Chris Wallace for an exclusive interview, where Wallace theatrically proceeded to confront the Russian President with a copy of Robert Mueller’s ridiculous indictment of Russian military officials for the hack of the DNC.

Putin rightly brushed off the silly indictment.

Via Business Insider

“Mr. President, one of the issues that is standing in the way of more progress, as you know, are the allegations of Russian interference in the US election,” Wallace said to Putin. “You have repeatedly said, and you said again today, that this was not the action of the Russian state, that if it was anything it was patriotic Russian individuals.”

Wallace referred to Mueller’s indictment of Russian intelligence officers on Friday, in which his team named 12 members of the military intelligence unit GRU for conspiring to infiltrate computers that contained election-related software.

Wallace held the stack of papers in full view of Putin: “I have here the indictment that was presented on Friday from the special counsel, Robert Mueller,” Wallace said.

As Wallace continued explaining the contents of the indictment, Putin let out a laugh.

“And they talk specifically about Units 26165 and 74455, they say — you smiled,” Wallace said. “Let me finish.”

Wallace gestured towards Putin with the indictment and asked if he wanted to read its contents: “May I give this to you to look at, sir?”

After a brief pause, Putin gestured for Wallace to drop the documents on a nearby table. The Russian president then went on to deny all of the allegations made by Mueller and the US intelligence community.

“Russia, as a state, has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections,” Putin said. “Do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?”

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Vladimir Putin just made an unexpected offer to Robert Mueller

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump responded to Mueller’s Russiagate indictments.

Eric Zuesse

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In the July 16th joint press conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the question arose of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for allegedly having engineered the theft of computer files from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Here is that part of the press conference, in a question that was addressed to both Presidents (and I boldface here the key end part of Putin’s presentation, and then I proceed to link to two articles which link to the evidence — the actual documents — that Putin is referring to in his response):

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REPORTER (Jeff Mason from Reuters): For President Putin if I could follow up as well. Why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election given the evidence that US Intelligence agencies have provided? Will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a US Grand jury.

TRUMP: Well I’m going to let the president [meaning Putin] answer the second part of that question.

As you know, the concept of that came up perhaps a little before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election, which frankly, they should have been able to win, because the electoral college is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans. [That allegation from Trump is unsupported, and could well be false.] We won the electoral college by a lot. 306 to 223, I believe. [It was actually 304 to 227.] That was a well-fought battle. We did a great job.

Frankly, I’m going to let the president speak to the second part of your question. But, just to say it one time again and I say it all the time, there was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign. Every time you hear all of these 12 and 14 — it’s stuff that has nothing to do — and frankly, they admit, these are not people involved in the campaign. But to the average reader out there, they are saying, well maybe that does. It doesn’t. Even the people involved, some perhaps told mis-stories. In one case the FBI said there was no lie. There was no lie. Somebody else said there was. We ran a brilliant campaign. And that’s why I’m president. Thank you.

PUTIN: As to who is to be believed, who is not to be believed: you can trust no one. Where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him? He defends the interests of the United States of America and I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation. We do have interests that are common. We are looking for points of contact.

There are issues where our postures diverge and we are looking for ways to reconcile our differences, how to make our effort more meaningful. We should not proceed from the immediate political interests that guide certain political powers in our countries. We should be guided by facts. Could you name a single fact that would definitively prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense — just like the president recently mentioned. Yes, the public at large in the United States had a certain perceived opinion of the candidates during the campaign. But there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about it. That’s the normal thing.

President Trump, when he was a candidate, he mentioned the need to restore the Russia/US relationship, and it’s clear that certain parts of American society felt sympathetic about it and different people could express their sympathy in different ways. Isn’t that natural? Isn’t it natural to be sympathetic towards a person who is willing to restore the relationship with our country, who wants to work with us?

We heard the accusations about it. As far as I know, this company hired American lawyers and the accusations doesn’t have a fighting chance in the American courts. There’s no evidence when it comes to the actual facts. So we have to be guided by facts, not by rumors.

Now, let’s get back to the issue of this 12 alleged intelligence officers of Russia. I don’t know the full extent of the situation. But President Trump mentioned this issue. I will look into it.

So far, I can say the following. Things that are off the top of my head. We have an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty that dates back to 1999. The mutual assistance on criminal cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently. On average, we initiate about 100, 150 criminal cases upon request from foreign states.

For instance, the last year, there was one extradition case upon the request sent by the United States. This treaty has specific legal procedures we can offer. The appropriate commission headed by Special Attorney Mueller, he can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal, official request to us so that we could interrogate, hold questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes. Our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States. Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country. They can be present at questioning.

In this case, there’s another condition. This kind of effort should be mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate. They would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States whom we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.

For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. Neither in Russia nor in the United States. Yet, the money escapes the country. They were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. [He presents no evidence to back up that $400 million claim.] Well, that’s their personal case. It might have been legal, the contribution itself. But the way the money was earned was illegal. We have solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers guided these transactions. [This allegation, too, is merely an unsupported assertion here.] So we have an interest of questioning them. That could be a first step. We can also extend it. There are many options. They all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.

REPORTER (Jeff Mason from Reuters): Did you direct any of your officials to help him [Trump] do that [find those ‘options’]?

PUTIN: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the US/Russia relationship back to normal.

The evidence regarding that entire matter, of Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act, can be seen in the links and the other evidences that are presented in two articles that I published on that very subject, earlier this year. One, titled “Private Investigations Find America’s Magnitsky Act to Be Based on Frauds”, summarizes the independently done private investigations into the evidence that is publicly available online regarding Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act. The Magnitsky Act was the basis for the first set of economic sanctions against Russia, and were instituted in 2012; so, this concerns the start of the restoration of the Cold War (without the communism etc. that were allegedly the basis of Cold War I).

The other article, “Russiagate-Trump Gets Solved by Giant of American Investigative Journalism”, provides further details in the evidence, and connects both the Magnitsky Act and Bill Browder to the reason why, on 9 June 2016, the Russian lawyer Nataliya Veselnitskaya, met privately at Trump Tower, with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner — the reason was specifically in order to inform them about the documentation on this case, so that Trump, if elected, would be aware of the contents of those documents. She had used the promise of dirt on Hillary so as to enable Trump, who effectively became the Republican nominee on 26 May 2016, to learn about the actual documents in this crucial case.

The Russian government has been legally pursuing Mr. Browder, for years, on charges that he evaded paying $232 million taxes that were due to the Russian government. These private investigations into this matter — regarding whether or not the Magnitsky Act was based on fraudulent grounds — have all found that Mr. Browder has clearly falsified and misrepresented the actual documents, which are linked to in those two articles I wrote. These might be the very same documents that she was presenting on June 9th.

So: this is a matter of importance not only to the validity (or not) of the Magnitsky Act economic sanctions against Russia, but to the Russiagate accusations regarding U.S. President Donald Trump. In my two articles, the general public can click right through to the evidence on the Magnitsky case.

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US media losing its mind over Trump-Putin summit

The media’s mania over Trump’s Helsinki performance and the so-called Russia-gate scandal reached new depths on Monday

Joe Lauria

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The media’s mania over Trump’s Helsinki performance and the so-called Russia-gate scandal reached new depths on Monday

This article was first published by Consortium News and is republished with their permission.

The reaction of the U.S. establishment media and several political leaders to President Donald Trump’s press conference after his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday has been stunning.

Writing in The Atlantic, James Fallows said:

“There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.

Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.

Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not  realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.

Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both are possibly true, so that the main question is the proportions … never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.”

As soon as the press conference ended CNN cut to its panel with these words from TV personality Anderson Cooper: “You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, surely, that I’ve ever seen.”

David Gergen, who for years has gotten away with portraying himself on TV as an impartial political sage, then told CNN viewers:

“I’ve never heard an American President talk that way buy I think it is especially true that when he’s with someone like Putin, who is a thug, a world-class thug, that he sides with him again and again against his own country’s interests of his own institutions that he runs, that he’s in charge of the federal government , he’s in charge of these intelligence agencies, and he basically dismisses them and retreats into this, we’ve heard it before, but on the international stage to talk about Hillary Clinton’s computer server …”

“It’s embarrassing,” interjected Cooper.

“It’s embarrassing,” agreed Gergen.

Cooper: “Most disgraceful performance by a US president.”

White House correspondent Jim Acosta, ostensibly an objective reporter, then gave his opinion: “I think that sums it up nicely. This is the president of the United States essentially taking the word of the Russian president…over his own intelligence community. It was astonishing, just astonishing to be in the room with the U.S. president and the Russian president on this critical question of election interference, and to retreat back to these talking points about DNC servers and Hillary Clinton’s emails when he had a chance right there in front of the world to tell Vladimir Putin to stay the HELL out of American democracy, and he didn’t do it.”

In other words Trump should just shut up and not question a questionable indictment, which Acosta, like nearly all the media, treat as a conviction.

The Media’s Handlers

The media’s handlers were even worse than their assets. Former CIA director John Brennan tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Here’s where the Republican Patriots are, Brennan: “That’s how a press conference sounds when an Asset stands next to his Handler,” former RNC Chairman Michael Steele tweeted.

Representative Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, said on Twitter: “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security.”

All these were reactions to Trump expressing skepticism about the U.S. indictment on Friday of 12 Russian intelligence agents for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election while he was standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the press conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki.

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia, Trump said. “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

The indictments, which are only unproven accusations, formally accused 12 members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, of stealing Democratic Party emails in a hacking operation and giving the materials to WikiLeaks to publish in order to damage the candidacy of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. The indictments were announced on Friday, three days before the summit, with the clear intention of getting Trump to cancel it. He ignored cries from the media and Congress to do so.

Over the weekend Michael Smerconish on CNN actually said the indictments proved that Russia had committed a “terrorist attack” against the United States. This is in line with many pundits who are comparing this indictment, that will most likely never produce any evidence, to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. The danger inherent in that thinking is clear.

Putin said the allegations are “utter nonsense, just like [Trump] recently mentioned.” He added: “The final conclusion in this kind of dispute can only be delivered by a trial, by the court. Not by the executive, by the law enforcement.” He could have added not by the media.

Trump reasonably questioned why the FBI never examined the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee to see whether there was a hack and who may have done it. Instead a private company, CrowdStrike, hired by the Democratic Party studied the server and within a day blamed Russia on very dubious grounds.

“Why haven’t they taken the server?” Trump asked. “Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying?”

But being a poor communicator, Trump then mentioned Clinton’s missing emails, allowing the media to conflate the two different servers, and be easily dismissed as Gergen did.

At the press conference, Putin offered to allow American investigators from the team of special counsel Robert Mueller, who put the indictment together, to travel to Russia and take part in interviews with the 12 accused Russian agents. He also offered to set up a joint cyber-security group to examine the evidence and asked that in return Russia be allowed to question persons of interest to Moscow in the United States.

“Let’s discuss the specific issues and not use the Russia and U.S. relationship as a loose change for this internal political struggle,” Putin said.

On CNN, Christiane Amanpour called Putin’s clear offer “obfuscation.”

Even if Trump agreed to this reasonable proposal it seems highly unlikely that his Justice Department will go along with it. Examination of whatever evidence they have to back up the indictment is not what the DOJ is after. As I wrote about the indictments in detail on Friday:

“The extremely remote possibility of convictions were not what Mueller was apparently after, but rather the public perception of Russia’s guilt resulting from fevered media coverage of what are after all only accusations, presented as though it is established fact. Once that impression is settled into the public consciousness, Mueller’s mission would appear to be accomplished.”

Still No ‘Collusion’

The summit begins. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The indictments did not include any members of Trump’s campaign team for “colluding” with the alleged Russian hacking effort, which has been a core allegation throughout the two years of the so-called Russia-gate scandal. Those allegations are routinely reported in U.S. media as established fact, though there is still no evidence of collusion.

Trump emphasised that point in the press conference. “There was no collusion at all,” he said forcefully. “Everybody knows it.”

On this point corporate media has been more deluded than normal as they clutch for straws to prove the collusion theory. As one example of many across the media with the same theme, a New York Times story on Friday, headlined, “Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?,” said Russia may have absurdly responded to Trump’s call at 10:30 a.m. on July 27, 2016 to hack Clinton’s private email server because it was “on or about” that day that Russia allegedly first made an attempt to hack Clinton’s personal emails, according to the indictment, which makes no connection between the two events.

If Russia is indeed guilty of remotely hacking the emails it would have had no evident need of assistance from anyone on the Trump team, let alone a public call from Trump on national TV to commence the operation.

More importantly, as Twitter handle “Representative Press” pointed out: “Trump’s July 27, 2016 call to find the missing 30,000 emails could not be a ‘call to hack Clinton’s server’ because at that point it was no longer online. Long before Trump’s statement, Clinton had already turned over her email server to the U.S. Department of Justice.” Either the indictment was talking about different servers or it is being intentionally misleading when it says “on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.”

This crucial fact alone, that Clinton had turned over the server in 2015 so that no hack was possible, makes it impossible that Trump’s TV call could be seen as collusion. Only a desperate person would see it otherwise.

But there is a simple explanation why establishment journalists are in unison in their dominant Russian narrative: it is career suicide to question it.

As Samuel Johnson said as far back as 1745: “The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion …since vanity and credulity cooperate in its favour.”

Importance of US-Russia Relations

Trump said the unproven allegation of collusion “as had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.”

The American president said the U.S. has been “foolish” not to attempt dialogue with Russia before, to cooperate on a range of issues.

“As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct,” Trump said. “Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”

This main reason for summits between Russian and American leaders was also ignored: to use diplomacy to reduce dangerous tensions. “I really think the world wants to see us get along,” Trump said. “We are the two great nuclear powers. We have 90 percent of the nuclear. And that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing.”

Preventing good relations between the two countries appears to be the heart of the matter for U.S. intelligence and their media assets. So Trump was vilified for even trying.

Ignoring the Rest of the Story

Obsessed as they are with the “interference” story, the media virtually ignored the other crucial issues that came up at the summit, such as the Middle East.

Trump sort of thanked Russia for its efforts to defeat ISIS. “When you look at all of the progress that’s been made in certain sections with the eradication of ISIS, about 98 percent, 99 percent there, and other things that have taken place that we have done and that, frankly, Russia has helped us with in certain respects,” he said.

Trump here is falsely taking credit, as he has before, for defeating ISIS with only some “help” from Russia. In Iraq the U.S. led the way against ISIS coordinating the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. But in the separate war against ISIS in Syria, Russia, the Syrian Arab Army, Kurdish forces, Iranian troops and Hizbullah militias were almost entirely responsible for ISIS’ defeat.

A grand deal? (Photo: Sputnik)

Also on Syria, Trump appeared to endorse what is being reported as a deal between Russia and Israel in which Israel would accept Bashar al-Assad remaining as Syrian president, while Russia would work on Iran to get it to remove its forces away from the northern Golan Heights, which Israel illegally considers its border with Syria.

After a meeting in Moscow last week with Putin, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he accepted Assad remaining in power.

“President Putin also is helping Israel,” Trump said at the press conference. “We both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu. They would like to do certain things with respect to Syria, having to do with the safety of Israel. In that respect, we absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel. Israel will be working with us. So both countries would work jointly.”

Trump also said that the U.S. and Russian militaries were coordinating in Syria, but he did not go as far as saying that they had agreed to fight together there, which has been a longstanding proposal of Putin’s dating back to September 2015, just before Moscow intervened militarily in the country.

“Our militaries have gotten along probably better than our political leaders for years,” Trump said. “Our militaries do get along very well. They do coordinate in Syria and other places.”

Trump said Russia and the U.S. should cooperate in humanitarian assistance in Syria.

“If we can do something to help the people of Syria get back into some form of shelter and on a humanitarian basis…that’s what the word was, a humanitarian basis,” he said. “I think both of us would be very interested in doing that.”

Putin said he had agreed on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron on a joint effort with Europe to deliver humanitarian aid. “On our behalf, we will provide military cargo aircraft to deliver humanitarian cargo. Today, I brought up this issue with President Trump. I think there’s plenty of things to look into,” Putin said.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

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