Just how willing is Donald Trump to show his disdain for America? So willing that he got up from his dinner, moved over to sit in private with Vladimir Putin, and joined the Russian leader to chat for an hour with only a Kremlin-provided interpreter as a witness. Did they talk about Syria? Crimea? Sanctions? Clearing up some building permits for Trump’s buddies the Agalorovs?
We don’t know. Because Donald Trump thinks so little of the American people, so little of Congress, so little of the responsibilities of his position, that he didn’t even bother to mention the meeting. He doesn’t feel the need to produce either a truthful transcript or even the sketchiest alibi. What did they talk about? Nunya. Now STFU.
Trump didn’t bother to tell America what he’d done—and not one member of his staff lifted a pen or went to a mike to mention that Trump’s debriefing had extended into hour three, or that the pesky presence of Rex Tillerson and a U.S.-source translator was not needed for the … good stuff.
It’s not as if Trump tried to cover up his actions. He’s not in a role where he can stroll over unnoticed. He just flagrantly, openly, in-your-face-ly did it while the leaders of the world looked on.
The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States’ staunchest, oldest allies.
If Trump had sat down for an hour of discussion with Theresa May or Angela Merkel, the concerns over the one-sided privacy of affair would be negligible, because the goals of the UK or Germany run mostly parallel to those of the United States … or should. But Trump chose to sit down with a proudly autocratic bigot and mass murderer. A man who thinks nothing of jailing or killing his political opponents, murdering journalists, or conducting operations within his own country that make the most outrageous 9/11 conspiracy theories look tame in comparison. A man whose primary goals included weakening America and harming its allies around the world.
Putin was behind the the bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow, killing hundreds of Russian citizens to provide a pretext for a war that ground a city to dust and killed tens of thousands more—inside his own country. That’s how little respect Putin has for Russians. And how little respect Donald Trump has for Americans.
It’s not the dinner that looked sinister. It’s Trump’s actions at that dinner. But mostly they look arrogant. They also look disdainful, smug, and vain.
There is no official United States government record of the intimate dinner conversation, because no American official other than the president was involved.
There’s no record. There was no official meeting. It took the press to, once again, reveal this fresh instance of Trump’s infatuation with Putin. Because anyone waiting for Trump to mention it would be waiting forever.
“Pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird, that here is the president of the United States, who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin than any of us, or simply doesn’t care,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a New York-based research and consulting firm, who said he had heard directly from attendees. “They were flummoxed, they were confused and they were startled.”