The White House has announced that the president will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16.
Although the vast majority of the American people would hope that the president would confront the Russian leader about his country’s interference in our elections, but some say that the focus will instead be on Syria.
In fact, just yesterday (at 4:25 in the morning…) the president Tweeted that, “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”
Although this meeting most likely won’t have the same pomp and circumstance as we saw in the president’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but that doesn’t mean that the stakes are any lower.
“President Trump has a track record of praising dictators and strongmen. We need this summit to be constructive, frank and honest. This can’t be another photo-op.” — Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA)
A NATO summit has been planned in Brussels five days before the president’s planned meeting with Putin, and many are concerned that if the NATO summit goes poorly and the president continues to meet with Putin it may degrade confidence in the strength of the transatlantic alliance.
Hopes for a smooth NATO summit were dashed earlier this month after this year’s disastrous G7 summit in Quebec where the president insulted the Canadian prime minister, prompting French President Emmanuel Macron to float the idea of a G6 moving forward.
National Security Advisor John Bolton has all but admitted that the administration doesn’t have a defined agenda for their meeting with Putin and has said that the simple fact that the meeting is even happening is important enough.
“I don’t think we expect, necessarily, specific outcomes or decisions,” — Bolton
Human rights groups are fighting for the president to tackle Russia’s role in the ongoing civil war in Syria, as well as its illegal annexation of Crimea, but there has been no indication thus far that either of those topics will be the president’s focus.
That being said, it doesn’t seem as though anyone knows what the president’s agenda is.
“I don’t know what the meeting is about. What goal is he seeking to achieve? Is he going to negotiate a Russian withdrawal from eastern Ukraine? I literally don’t know.” — Michael McFaul, President Obama’s ambassador to Russia and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
Iron Triangle Press will continue to follow this story.