President Trump on Tuesday morning attacked the media for failing to report positive things about a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — a secret meeting that preceded a joint press conference in which the president excused Russia’s attack on American democracy, and indicated he takes Putin’s word over the consensus of his own intelligence community.
Referring to his lengthy meeting with Putin — one that even his aides weren’t allowed to attend — Trump tweeted, “While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”
While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2018
It’s unclear how Trump expects the media to report favorably or otherwise about his meeting with Putin, given that no details about what was discussed have been released, and nobody besides the two leaders and translators was present for it.
Minutes before Trump posted his tweet, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced that they are ready to implement a “military security” agreement reached between Trump and Putin.
Russian MoD says it's "ready to activate contacts with US colleagues via general staffs and other existing communication channels to discuss extending Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, cooperation in Syria, other current issues of ensuring military security."
— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) July 17, 2018
The only problem for Americans is that, as of yet, the Trump administration hasn’t disclosed any details about what exactly the Trump-Putin agreement is.
While it’s unclear what Trump and Putin discussed during their secret meeting, it’s worth remembering that within 24 hours of the two leaders’ first private meeting during the G20 summit in July 2017, Trump dictated a misleading statement for Donald Trump Jr. that claimed “a program about the adoption of Russian children” was the reason top Trump campaign officials met with a Russian agent in Trump Tower during the campaign.
That statement was quickly contradicted by Don Jr.’s emails, which he voluntarily published in order to get ahead of a forthcoming New York Times report. Those emails showed the Trump Tower meeting really stemmed from the Trump campaign’s desire to obtain incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, no matter the source. In fact, the word “adoptions” doesn’t appear a single time in the correspondence Don Jr. released.
What role, if any, Putin played in developing Trump’s false talking point remains a matter of speculation — as does the question of whether Trump was seeking input from the Russian strongman this time around.